Hurricane

Tropical Storm Colin forms in Gulf of Mexico

The National Hurricane Center upgraded a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico into Tropical Storm Colin Sunday afternoon and issued a tropical storm warning for part of Florida’s west coast.

Colin is the earliest third tropical storm on record to form in the Atlantic basin, the National Hurricane Center tweeted Sunday.

The warning was issued for the roughly 400-mile stretch between Indian Pass and Englewood on the Gulf Coast of Florida, calling for tropical storm conditions within that area during the next 36 hours. The area includes Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Hernando counties. Late Sunday, a tropical storm warning was issued for the coast of Georgia and northeast Florida from Altamaha Sound, Georgia to Sebastian Inlet, Florida.

By 11 p.m. Sunday the storm was located about 450 miles southwest of Tampa, packing 40 mile per hour winds and moving north at 9 mph. Several counties near Lake Okeechobee including Glades, Collier and Hendry had already seen heavy rain and wind, according to the National Weather Service.

“There’s already been some severe weather moving through,” meteorologist Larry Kelly said.

The storm, which is near the northeastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula, became Tropical Depression 3 at about 10 a.m. Sunday. According to the National Hurricane Center’s Sunday afternoon tropical depression advisory, the depression formed over the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Over the next few days, South Florida and the Keys will most likely see heavy rains and flooding, despite not being in Colin’s predicted path. The storm is expected to produce up to 8 inches across western Cuba and Florida.

“Looking at South Florida, we’re mostly out of the way,” said John Cangialosi, a hurricane specialist with the National Weather Service in Miami-Dade. “But because most of the weather is on the east side, there’s still a risk of bands of rain and some potential for severe weather.”

There’s an 80 percent chance of rain Monday, with more heavy winds and possible flooding. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are predicted for the rest of the week, although chances of rain will drop to about 50 percent by Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Highs will be in the high 80s, and lows will be in the high 70s for the rest of the week.

Rip currents are also expected until at least Tuesday across the Gulf water.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Sunday afternoon that the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee had activated emergency support and planning functions. The State Emergency Response Team also began preparing for possible impacts from the tropical storm.

Last week, NOAA forecasters predicated a “normal” hurricane season, with 10 to 16 named storms, four to eight hurricanes and one to four major storms.

Miami Herald staff writer Carli Teproff contributed to this report.

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