Tropical Storm Colin has formed and will threaten Florida with flooding rain and rough seas through Monday night. Heavy rain will also spread to southern Georgia and the Carolina coastline.
The tropical storm will track from the eastern Gulf of Mexico to northern Florida into Monday night.
Despite the tropical storm heading toward Florida, a persistent stream of moisture set up across western Cuba will fuel potentially flooding downpours through Tuesday.
The system will likely track into northwestern Florida, in the vicinity of Perry, and then race across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia on Monday night before hovering off the Carolina coastline by Tuesday morning.
However, residents and visitors will face impacts well before landfall.
Seas will build throughout the central and eastern Gulf of Mexico through Monday as the tropical storm organizes, creating hazards for boaters and swimmers.
Dangerous rip currents will develop, especially along Florida’s west coast. Drenching rain will likely deter many from attempting to enter the pounding surf on Monday.
Regardless of the strength of Tropical Storm Colin, torrential rain will push across western and northern Florida and southern Georgia from Monday into Monday night.
Localized downpours will erupt over other parts of the southeastern United States on Monday with heavier rain developing across the coastal Carolinas from Monday night into Tuesday.
“Since we are dealing with a fast-moving storm system, this should cut down on the duration of the rainfall,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
However, a total of 4-8 inches of rain is still expected in the corridor from Fort Myers and Tampa to Jacksonville and Tallahassee and northeastward to near Charleston, South Carolina.
Flooding is a serious concern with the majority of that rain set to fall within 12 hours. Residents should prepare for possible evacuations.
Colin will likely not ramp up into a strong tropical storm or hurricane, but there could still be wind gusts capable of causing sporadic power outages and tree damage in northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and along Florida’s west coast.
An isolated tornado may also spin up east and southeast of the system’s center in northern and central Florida, as well as far southeastern Georgia.
Winds driving water from the Gulf of Mexico onshore threaten to flood Florida’s west coast beaches, near and south of where the system comes onshore.
There is concern for a 1- to 2-foot storm surge along the west coast of Florida, from Florida Bay to Indian Pass. However, the surge can rise to around 3 feet from Tampa Bay to near Apalachee Bay.
Seas will also build later on Monday into Tuesday at the Atlantic beaches from Florida to the Carolinas, as the system approaches and then moves into the southwestern Atlantic Ocean.
Coastal flooding is a threat at high tide along the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas. Seas are already running high from the Perigean Spring Tides.
Flash flooding will occur across the eastern Carolinas through Tuesday morning, especially in the areas hit the hardest from Tropical Storm Bonnie during the last few days of May.
When the system reaches the waters of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, Kottlowski is concerned that it could strengthen further.
“I could not rule out that it may become a hurricane off the Southeast coast, but chances are very small of that happening,” he said.
Wind shear that may temper significant strengthening in the eastern Gulf of Mexico should relax for a time when the system is in the southwestern Atlantic.
Wind shear is a rapid change in direction and speed of air flow at different levels of the atmosphere. Wind shear can prevent a tropical system from forming or cause an organized tropical system to weaken.
The strength of the system over the southwestern Atlantic will determine how much rain and wind impacts the coastal Carolinas. Residents should prepare for areas of flooding.
After impacting the Carolinas, the system will be rapidly swept away from the rest of the United States by a cold front that will usher fresh cool air into the Northeast.
By midweek, the system will lose its tropical characteristics; however, it could still bring rough seas, gusty winds and drenching thunderstorms to Bermuda.