The storm is slowly gathering strength in the Gulf as it marches toward a Sunday landfall in Louisiana.

MEXICO CITY — A re-energized Tropical Storm Cristobal is swirling in the central Gulf of Mexico on a path expected to take it to the U.S. Gulf Coast along with the heavy rains that already caused flooding and mudslides in Mexico and Central America.


After weakening to a tropical depression while moving over land in Mexico's Gulf coast, Cristobal headed back into the Gulf from the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday and powered back up into a tropical storm. The storm was slowly gathering strength in the Gulf on Saturday.


The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cristobal's maximum sustained winds had strengthened to 50 mph (85 kph) by Saturday and it was moving north at 12 mph (19 kph). The storm was centered about 310 miles (500 kilometers) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.


Cristobal was forecast to close in on the U.S. coast by Sunday night without gaining much, if any, strength due to dry air and wind shear in the Gulf.


Okaloosa County officials said potential local impacts could include 2-3 inches of rain, tropical storm force wind gusts and surf as high as 8 to 11 feet. As much as 5 inches of rain is possible, officials said.


Winds may begin to pick up as early as tonight and there is a risk of tornadoes, although at this point it is considered marginal.


The water off local beaches could close today and remain closed into Monday.


Minor coastal flooding is also possible.


Public Works has made sandbags available at fleet North (2798 Goodwin Ave., Crestview) and South (84 Ready Ave., Fort Walton Beach). These are available immediately and throughout the weekend, according to officials.


The Hurricane Center said the storm could cause heavy rains from East Texas to Florida this weekend and into early next week. A tropical storm warning is in effect east of Morgan City, Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton County line.


In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency to prepare for the storm’s possible arrival.


"Now is the time to make your plans, which should include the traditional emergency items along with masks and hand sanitizer as we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic," Edward said in a statement released Thursday.


Cristobal formed this week in the Bay of Campeche from the remnants of Tropical Storm Amanda, which had sprung up last weekend in the eastern Pacific and hit Central America. The two storms combined to soak the region with as much as 35 inches (89 centimeters) of rain in some areas over the past week. At least 30 deaths have been attributed to the two storms and the flooding and landslides they unleashed.


In Bacalar, in the south of Mexico's Quintana Roo state, 230 families were isolated by the rains and had to be airlifted out, David Leon, Mexico's national civil defense coordinator, said Friday. Leon added there had been light damage in 75 municipalities in seven states.


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