As expected, Tropical Storm Colin formed Sunday with Florida and parts of the southeast U.S. in its sights. While everyone seems to focus on the track forecast put out by the National Hurricane Center, it’s always important to understand tropical systems using a holistic approach.
First, look at the image above which combines satellite imagery (the white color representing clouds) and composite radar (shown in the blobs of green, yellow and red). At first glance, it may appear that the rain stops part-way in the Gulf of Mexico. Land-based radar don’t reach that far, so keep that in mind.
Here is the latest track as of 11 am Monday for the path of the storm, which isn’t expected strengthen to hurricane status remaining a strong tropical storm with maximum winds of 50 mph when it makes landfall along the bend of the Florida Gulf coast sometime late Monday night:
As with most tropical storms Colin poses a substantial rainfall threat, which is why there is concern about flooding in Florida. Here is a map showing the forecast for rainfall through Tuesday:
A 5-inch bullseye is projected from Tampa northeast-ward up through Savannah and Charleston, which felt the impact of Bonnie less than ten days ago. That’s why multiple flood and flash flood watches have been issued, indicated in green shading below:
Tropical storms pose an additional threat that many overlook – isolated tornadoes which form suddenly. In this case, with the storm being over the Gulf, waterspouts may develop in the convective bands. Those waterspouts may transition to tornadoes along the eastern Gulf anywhere from Fort Myers to Tampa to Cedar Key. The Storm Prediction Center expects the greatest chance of these kinds of storms in the yellow shaded area, indicated with a “slight risk”:
Of course, if a tornado briefly forms and damages something, those affected may not consider it “slight” damage. Additionally, thunderstorms spawned by Colin’s circulation may also briefly contain high wind gusts. Nevertheless, many down-play the impact of tropical storms because they don’t seem as menacing as its tropical cousin, the hurricane.
Hopefully, those in the storm’s path have taken precautions, but when flood waters rise, there’s little many can do beside staying off the roads and becoming a floodwater statistic. While the oft-cited injunction “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” is used, many unfortunately ignore it and assume they are invulnerable to the sweeping effects of rapidly rising water.
If you’re in the path of Colin, be prepared and be sure you have a way to know if danger is imminent by getting WeatherCall: try.weathercall.net/signupnow.