TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Tropical Storm Colin was gaining speed and strength Monday on its way to strike Florida, threatening rains forecasters said could cause some serious flooding along much of the state’s Gulf coast.
A large portion of Florida’s western and Panhandle coast was already under a tropical storm warning when the National Hurricane Center announced that a quickly moving depression had become a named storm. The center said it is the earliest that a third named storm has ever formed in the Atlantic basin.
Colin’s maximum sustained winds Monday morning had increased to near 50 mph (85 kph) with some slow strengthening possible during the next two days. The storm was centered about 360 miles (580 kilometers) west-southwest of Tampa and moving north-northeast near 14 mph (22 kph).
Tropical storms carry wind speeds of between 39 mph (63 kph) and 73 mph (117 kph).
“It’s going to impact most of the state in some way,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a phone interview. “Hopefully we won’t have any significant issues here, but we can have some storm surge, some rain, tornados and some flooding.”
The center of Colin is expected to approach the coast of the Florida Big Bend area Monday afternoon or evening, forecasters said.
Colin is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches and forecasters said up to 8 inches possible across western Florida, eastern Georgia, and coastal areas of the Carolinas through Tuesday.
Scott postponed a political meeting with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump scheduled Monday in New York so he can remain in the state capital to monitor the weather.
It is the latest in a series of severe whether events across the country, from record-breaking heat in the West, flooding in Texas and storms that are expected to cause problems in the nation’s capital and mid-Atlantic region.
Scott warned residents not to simply look at the center of the storm, saying the heaviest rain will be to the east and west of it.
The National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, issued a flood warning for the Shoal River near Crestview and warned of possible widespread flooding in streams, creeks, and canals. Wind gusts threatened to bring down trees and branches and cause power outages.
The Georgia coast and the north Florida Atlantic coast were placed under a tropical storm watch Sunday evening.
Sand bags were being distributed to residents in St. Petersburg, Tampa and nearby cities.
Ohio damaging winds
Thunderstorms in parts of Ohio have brought powerful winds that have caused some reported damage.
Many counties in northeast Ohio were under a severe thunderstorm watch or warning Sunday as a front moved through the state.
A spokesman for Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky says traffic there was diverted after a nearby roadway was closed as a result of downed power lines and debris from the storm. The spokesman says Cedar Point will be closed Monday as utility crews work to repair the downed power lines. The park plans to reopen Tuesday.
The Sandusky Register reports the storm also downed trees and power lines in the city’s downtown area.
The National Weather Service said Phoenix hit 113 degrees on Sunday, making it the third day in a row setting record high temperatures in Arizona’s Urban Heart. Sunday’s high beat the previous record of 112 degrees in 1990.
Much of Southern Arizona, from Phoenix to Nogales, is under an excessive heat warning.
Other western and southwestern U.S. states are experiencing above-normal temperatures in the triple-digits.
Officials are warning residents to stay hydrated and avoid the outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when temperatures are highest.
Power outages in NJ
Strong storms swept through the state downing trees and power lines and leaving thousands without power.
South Jersey was the hardest hit Sunday night.
NJ.com reports about 19,000 Atlantic City Electric customers were without power at the height of the storm. The utility say most customers should expect to have their power restored by late Sunday night.
The National Weather Service had issued thunderstorm watches and warnings for the state.
No major damage or injuries were reported.
The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down in eastern Indiana when a weekend storm passed over the area.
The weather service’s Wilmington, Ohio, office said Sunday that a tornado with wind speeds of up to 85 mph cut a 1¼ mile path Saturday near Richmond, Indiana. No one was injured by the EF0 tornado, which is the weakest tornado designation the weather service assigns.