Cristina was the third named tropical cyclone
to strike the southern coast of Mexico within a 10-day span.
a. Synoptic History
Satellite imagery showed an increase in cloudiness and showers
just to the south of Central America early on 30 June. This
activity was moving generally toward the west-northwest and was
likely associated with a tropical wave
that crossed over Panama on the previous day. Deep convection became more concentrated
and analysts from both the NESDIS
Synoptic Analysis Branch
(SAB) and the TPC began Dvorak classifications
near 1800 UTC on the 30th.
Convective banding became organized and the
(Figure 1 [25K GIF] and
Table 1) indicates that the
system became a tropical
depression at 1200 UTC 1 July about 300 n mi south of San Salvador,
El Salvador. The depression initially moved toward the northwest
near 12 knots, apparently in response to a weakness in the ridge to
the north over the southwest Gulf of Mexico.
Based on ship reports, the depression became
Cristina at 0000 UTC 2 July, while centered about 260 n mi south of
Guatemala City, Guatemala. Deep convection increased near the
of the tropical cyclone, and gradual further intensification
occurred. Forward motion increased to near 15 knots. It is
estimated that Cristina almost reached
just before making landfall near Puerto Angel, Mexico around 0900 UTC 3 July.
The tropical cyclone weakened rapidly as the circulation moved
over the mountainous terrain of Mexico, and it dissipated by 0000
UTC 4 July.
b. Meteorological Statistics
Best track positions and intensities were derived primarily from Dvorak technique
estimates. Figures 2 (25K GIF) and
3 (28K GIF)
show the curves of minimum central pressure and maximum one-minute wind speed,
respectively, versus time, along with the observations on which
they are based. A ship with call sign S6IG reported 34 knot
winds just to the north of the center at 2200 and 2300 UTC 1 July and was
the basis for upgrading the depression to a tropical storm.
c. Casualty and Damage Statistics
According to news agency Notimex, one person drowned when his
fishing boat was caught out at sea off the southern state of
Oaxaca. Another man aboard the boat was missing, and another was
found alive. The news agency also reported that 11 fishing vessels
were missing with some 22 people aboard after they set out to sea
the day before the storm made landfall. Fishermen in this area
frequently seek refuge from bad weather on remote stretches of
shoreline and are not heard from for days. Efforts from the NHC to
determine the outcome of the missing have not succeeded.
Although no reports of damage have been received,
flooding of a few feet above normal tide levels near and just to
the east of the landfall point likely occurred. It is expected
that wind and rain also resulted in some damage.
d. Forecast and Warning Critique
Because Cristina was a short-lived
cyclone, there was
only a limited number of official forecasts that were verified. During
the time when Cristina was a tropical storm, the average official
track forecast errors were 59 (5 cases), 118 (3 cases) and 159 (1
case) n mi at 12, 24 and 36 hours, respectively. These statistics
are typical for northwestward-moving storms. The intensity
forecasts were, in general, good and the strengthening trend was
(30K GIF) shows the best track and output from the track
prediction models initialized from 0000 UTC 2 July that were
available operationally to the hurricane specialist. Note that
most models kept the center of the tropical storm well offshore.
Figure 5 (21K GIF) shows the
GFDL forecast from this same time.
Note that this model dissipated Cristina offshore of the border of Guatemala
and Mexico. Cristina actually made landfall just below hurricane
strength about 33 hours after the initialized time. This
observation indicates that the models were of limited value at that juncture.
The government of Mexico issued a
tropical storm warning
for the coast of Mexico from Tapachula (near the border of Guatemala
and Mexico) to Punta Maldonado (about midway between Puerto
Escondido and Acapulco) at 1500 UTC 2 July. Cristina made landfall
near the middle of the warning area about 18 hours later.