Tropical Storm Colin Near Landfall in Florida

Tropical Storm Colin accelerated toward the northeast on Monday afternoon and the center of circulation is about to make landfall near Steinhatchee, Florida.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Tropical Storm Colin was located at latitude 29.8°N and longitude 83.8°W which put it about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of Cedar Key, Florida.  Colin was moving toward the northeast at 22 m.p.h. (35 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1001 mb.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Indian Pass to Englewood, Florida.  A Tropical Storm Warning is also in effect for the East Coast from Sebastian Inlet, Florida to Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.

Although Tropical Storm Colin looked ragged on satellite and radar imagery, the pressure did drop to 1001 mb on Monday.  Colin is a very asymmetric tropical storm.  Almost all of the rain and stronger winds are in the eastern half of the circulation.  Most of the heavier rain is falling in bands southeast and northeast of the center.  An upper level trough over Mexico is producing strong southwesterly winds which are blowing over the western half of Colin.  Despite significant vertical wind shear, the center of circulation became more well defined on Monday.  There are few thunderstorms near the center and Colin is clearly a sheared tropical cyclone.

Tropical Storm Colin did produce minor storm surges along the west coast of Florida where the winds pushed the water toward the coast.  Local coastal flooding occurred, especially in the most surge prone areas.  In addition Tropical Storm Colin produced heavy rainfall over the peninsula of Florida.

Normally, a tropical storm weakens when it moves over land because there is more friction and it is removed from its energy source.  However, Tropical Storm Colin could move into a region where there is more upper level divergence.  If the upper level divergence pumps out more mass, the surface pressure could fall and the wind speeds could increase a little bit.  In addition, if Colin moves toward the northeast more quickly then the effect of vertical wind shear will be less.  The wind speed in Tropical Storm Colin is forecast to increase a little on Tuesday, even though it could start to lose its tropical characteristics.

The upper level trough should continue to steer Tropical Storm Colin toward the northeast on Tuesday.  It is expected to move rapidly across northeast Florida and the center of Colin could emerge over the Atlantic Ocean by Tuesday morning.  The center of Colin is expected to move close to the coast of the Carolinas and it could be east of Cape Hatteras by Tuesday night.

On its anticipated track, the strongest winds should occur over the Atlantic Ocean.  Tropical Storm Colin could contribute to locally heavy rainfall in northeast Florida, extreme southeast Georgia and coastal portions of South Carolina and North Carolina.  Wave action could cause some beach erosion.  Wind damage should be minimal, although some power outages could occur.