The hurricane season officially began on June 1—but Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha apparently failed to get the memo, and arrived last month. A tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico has now strengthened to become Tropical Storm Cristobal, setting a record for the earliest third storm of the season to have a name, CNN reports. A storm is named when winds reach 39mph or higher. The previous record for earliest third named storm was set by Tropical Storm Colin on June 5, 2016. Cristobal is currently moving toward southern Mexico. It is expected to start heading north by the weekend, but the National Hurricane Center says it is "too soon to specify the location and timing of any potential impacts along the US Gulf Coast," reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
NOAA says there is a 60% chance that this hurricane season will be more severe than normal, with up to 19 named storms, including six major hurricanes, the Verge reports. A typical year sees around a dozen named storms and three hurricanes. In early May, FEMA urged people to start preparing for hurricane season, and warned that people's usual evacuation shelters may be closed due to the pandemic. University of Florida professor Darlene Cunha says some tough choices might lie ahead. "Should we stay home and in the path of a storm that could potentially demolish it, or shelter in a building crammed with people who could be carrying the virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people? Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit this is a tough prediction game," she writes at the New York Times. (Read more hurricane stories.)