MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Cristobal has made landfall on Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Campeche, dumping heavy rain on the already soaked region.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Wednesday the storm had sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and was expected to turn north later in the week, cross the Gulf of Mexico and eventually threaten the United States. But until then, forecasters expect Cristobal to meander along Mexico’s Gulf coast causing severe flooding.

The hurricane center said it made landfall Wednesday morning near Atasta, just west of the major oil production town of Ciudad del Carmen.

Tropical Storm Cristobal is expected to get back into the Gulf of Mexico and start heading north on Friday. State Climatologist Barry Keim says a landfall along the Louisiana coast is possible Sunday night or early Monday morning

“All of the coastal areas between Freeport, Texas, over to Gulf Shores, Alabama, are currently within the cone of uncertainty and should be watching this storm very closely,” said Keim.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts the storm will stay at tropical storm strength when crossing the Gulf of Mexico, but Keim says conditions for reaching hurricane strength are favorable.

“Sea surface temps are conducive and they are projecting it to get up to wind speeds around 65 mph at landfall.  It only has to get to 74 mph to reach hurricane strength and that is not out of the realm of possibilities,” said Keim.

Keim says in preparation for the storm’s landfall, flash flood watches have been posted across southeast Louisiana.

“I would imagine that southwest Louisiana is going to be putting those up pretty shortly as well.  Keep in mind, a watch just means that they know that the conditions are going to be favorable for something like this to happen,” said Keim.

 (Story written by Kevin Barnhart/Louisiana Radio Network and the Associated Press}