Cristobal crashes onto US Gulf Coast amid flood threat

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A lopsided Tropical Storm Cristobal came ashore on Sunday in Louisiana and ginned up dangerous weather much farther east, sending waves crashing over Mississippi beaches, swamping parts of an Alabama island town and spawning a tornado in Florida.

Cristobal made an afternoon landfall between the mouth of the Mississippi River and the since-evacuated barrier island resort community of Grand Isle, the storm packing 50mph winds.

The storm had begun weakening as it moved inland late Sunday night though heavy rainfall and a storm surge were continuing along the Gulf Coast, posing a threat across a wide area into the Florida Panhandle.

At 11pm on Sunday, the storm was centred about 20 miles north-northwest of New Orleans and it packed sustained 45-mph winds. With its drenching rains, Cristobal kept inundating the northern Gulf coast well into yesterday.

In New Orleans, the question was how much rain would fall and whether there would be enough breaks in the bands of heavy weather for the beleaguered pumping system to meet its latest test of keeping streets free of flood waters.

Coastal Mississippi news outlets reported stalled cars and trucks as flood waters inundated beaches and crashed over highways. On the City of Biloxi Facebook page, officials said emergency workers helped dozens of motorists through flood waters, mostly on US 90 running along the coast.

In Alabama, the bridge linking the mainland to Dauphin Island was closed much of Sunday. Police and state transportation department vehicles led convoys of motorists to and from the island when breaks in the weather permitted.

Puddles along Bourbon St in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. PHOTO: AFP