6 AM Tuesday Update:
Hurricane Cristobal is an odd looking hurricane when looking at the satellite picture. The deep dry air to the west of the storm along with northwesterly wind shear is keeping the deeper thunderstorms from wrapping around the center.
In spite of that, NOAA and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft data from overnight indicates that the storm has strengthened some.
The Maximum winds are 75 mph with higher gust to 90 mph. The center of circulation is located at 26.0 N and -71.9 W.
Cristobal is about 740 miles south southeast of Atlantic beach.
The storm will remain a strong category 1 hurricane and pass some 500 miles to our east, closer to Bermuda than us. But the waves generated will begin to impact the Crystal coast later today through Wednesday making for a high rip current risk as well as 4 to 6 foot seas briefly on Wednesday along our coast. Waves will be the only impact from Cristobal on Eastern North Carolina.
The official forecast track keeps Cristobal a tropical storm through Wednesday moving northwest and eventually west Wednesday before getting picked up by a trough and pushed out to sea turning northeast by Thursday as a Cat 1 Hurricane.
At this time, the majority of the forecast models keep Cristobal away from the U.S. However, there are still a few that want to continue Cristobal on a westerly track. We will continue to keep a close eye on this and alert you to any changes. There is a lot of wind shear that is pushing most of the thunderstorm activity to the eastern side and that is the reason it was slow to develop. There is some concern that Cristobal misses the trough and continues on a westerly track. Still a lot of uncertainty right now with a weak storm.
If this forecast track holds true, Cristobal would take a similar path to Hurricane Bertha just a few weeks ago, and would have minimal impacts to Eastern North Carolina. Some high swells and strong rip currents along with gusty winds would be the case Wednesday and Thursday.
A new tropical depression over the Bahamas is expected to become the next named tropical storm of the Atlantic season, Cristobal.
There is a great amount of uncertainty on the track and intensity of this storm. The official National Hurricane Center forecast path takes the storm rolling over the northern Bahamas through Monday, and strengthening into a hurricane as early as Tuesday.
Please note, forecast models are still split on this storm. Small changes with the center of circulation could be enough to push the depression in an entirely different direction. There is still a chance the storm could meander over into the Gulf of Mexico. However, many forecast models do take the storm on the east side of Florida, and a few hundred miles off our coast by next Friday.
It is still too early to determine the impacts of this storm. We will have a better handle on how this storm could effect us by the end of the weekend. The forecast intensity at this point is a Category 1 storm. This is highly uncertain as well.