Tropical Storm Colin Nearing Big Bend, Gulf Coast; Governor Declares State Of Emergency
Update 4:50 p.m.: Franklin County Emergency Operators say they're seeing storm surge and flooding in coastal areas. Affected areas include the East End of the County from Lanark Village to Ochlockonee River. The storm has not made landfall yet. That is expected to happen later this evening. Florida Public Radio meteorologist Jeff Huffman says the system is disorganized, but is spawning thunderstorms and some tornados.
The City of Tallahassee has announced road closures: Weems Road from Easterwood Drive to Eliza Road is closed due to flooding. Creek Road and roads near Lake are closed due to flooding. Reports of storm surge are coming in from coastal areas, including St. Marks.
Update 11:20 a.m.: Governor Rick Scott is declaring a state of emergency in 34 counties as Tropical Storm Colin begins to make landfall. Flooding and storm surge are the source of concerns with this weather system.
Colin is the third named storm of the year—coming just a week after the official start of Hurricane Season. It isn’t a strong system, but it is bringing lots of water to the Gulf’s and Nature Coast. Flash flood warnings are in place across the Big Bend most of North Florida.
Governor Rick Scott’s State of Emergency order extends from the South in Sarasota County, to Franklin in the Panhandle. It also stretches to the east coast from Brevard to Nassau County, in the Northeastern part of the state.
Update: Rains from Tropical Storm Colin are picking up as we enter the afternoon. Storm surge and flooding are the more immediate concerns in the Panhandle, and Franklin County Emergency Management Coordinator Tess Dameron says the county is monitoring the roads to make sure there are no wash outs:
“We’re manning our phones, we’ve called in a small amount of our volunteers to help with the hotline. We’ll issue re-entry tags as people come in. It’s a skeleton staff, but we’re prepared for activating to a level 1 if things get worse."
Franklin has issued voluntary evacuation orders for the low-lying areas of Alligator Point and Bald Point but it’s not known how many people have left. The county has opened sandbag filling stations in Apalachicola and Carrabelle. The national weather service has issued a flash flood warning for parts of Jefferson, Leon and Wakulla Counties until 1:15 today.
Original Story: The center of Colin is set to approach the coast of the Big Bend this afternoon and tonight. Rain and scattered thunderstorms are expected. Coastal areas in the panhandle could see flooding and flood warnings have been issued for several counties.
Tropical Storm Colin strengthened overnight. It now has winds of 50 miles per hour. Landfall is expected near the Big Bend this evening. A flood watch is in effect for the entire listening area. Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says the worst of the storm is expected later in the day.
“Some of the rain bands are going to move in quickly this morning. They’ll become heavier throughout the afternoon hours and especially this evening as the center of Colin slides just to our south," Huffman says.
"I can’t rule out an isolated tornado but the greater concern is flooding, generally 2-4 inches of rain with the highest totals in our eastern counties. Also there will be some minor coastal flooding along those beaches east of Panama City.”
Check back later on for more on this story as it develops.