Tropical Storm Colin is churning in the Gulf of Mexico, and, as a result, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for more than half of his state’s counties. At least one of those Florida counties has issued a voluntary evacuation notice, and Tropical Storm Colin is already flooding parts of Florida on Monday as the storm continues to grow stronger.
As Weather.com reports, Tropical Storm Colin is slowly heading towards Florida, and the low-lying areas of the state are facing some potentially severe flooding as the earliest third named storm in history passes over the state. Because of Tropical Storm Colin’s impending landfall, Florida’s Emergency Operations Center has been elevated to level 2 activation stage status.
“The level two activation at the State Emergency Operations Center will help state and local emergency management officials work together to ensure our state is ready to respond to any impacts of this weather event.”
In addition to the state of emergency declaration, Florida also has roughly 6,000 Florida National Guard members waiting in the wings to deal with the impending landfall of Tropical Storm Colin. The hashtag #TropicalStormColin has popped up on social media to help those impacted stay in touch, share their stories, and get updates about the storm.
Franklin County, Florida, is one that frequently floods in the wake of tropical storms and hurricanes, and therefore, a voluntary evacuation notice has been put out for anyone who lives in a low-lying area in the county and/or for those living in or traveling in RVs.
Tropical Storm Colin’s approach has also prompted the evacuation of Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire on Monday. The Florida Skyway Bridge has been closed to all traffic as of late Monday morning in response to the 52 mph wind gusts caused by Tropical Storm Colin. As of Monday afternoon, over 8,000 Tampa Electric customers were already without power.
As NBC News reports, Tropical Storm Colin is expected to make full landfall by late Monday afternoon. Colin is expected to have sustained winds of at least 50 mph as it engulfs the Florida Gulf coast, and it’s entirely possible that wind speeds could gust much higher.
Despite the significant wind speeds of Tropical Storm Colin, the biggest threat to most Floridians’ lives and property is going to come from widespread flooding. The flooding risks associated with Colin include heavy rains and a storm surge that could raise high tide levels by two to four feet.
Tropical Storm Colin is expected to make landfall north of Tampa this afternoon and will weaken as it continues its eastward trek across Florida and back into the Atlantic Ocean by Tuesday afternoon.
Tropical Storm Colin has caused tropical storm warnings to be issued from Georgia to North Florida’s Atlantic coast. The tropical storm warnings were issued late Sunday evening and will likely remain in place for the duration of Colin’s pummeling of the state. Tornado warnings have also been issued in two Florida counties because of the approach of Tropical Storm Colin.
Meteorological authorities say that Tropical Storm Colin could cause waves as high as 12 feet, and because of that, the Coast Guard has warned swimmers and boaters to stay out of the water until Tuesday. Authorities have also reportedly distributed sandbags for Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg residents to help protect against the expected flooding that will be wrought by Colin.
The National Hurricane center said that by 11 a.m. EST on Monday, Tropical Storm Colin was moving northeast at a rate of 16 mph. If you’re in the path of Tropical Storm Colin or just want to keep an eye on the developing weather story, you can track the storm here.
At this point, Florida authorities are asking those in the path of Tropical Storm Colin to stay off the roads and to shelter in place until the storm passes.
[Image via Shutterstock]