Tropical Storm Colin Still Causing Flooding, Road Closures
Tropical Storm Colin left Florida early Tuesday but it continued to cause problems on roads around the Tampa Bay area throughout the day.
Lingering rain from the storm caused flooding that closed roads Tuesday morning and winds kept the Sunshine Skyway closed until around noon.
Storms were also affecting Tampa International Airport where 29 flights were delayed Tuesday morning and two were cancelled. Travelers were encouraged to check with their airlines for updates.
Residents in St. Pete Beach were told to stop using water for bathing, laundry and dish washing because the city's sanitary sewage pipe and pump station were completely full. Residents were also being asked to limit their toilet use.
Duke Energy says some 7,600 customers in Florida were still without power at midday Tuesday.
In a news release, the electric company said crews worked through Monday night to restore power to more than 85,000 of its 1.7 million customers in Florida.
The company said crews were being relocated to areas with the highest number of outages, mainly in Pinellas County. They anticipated all storm-related outages will be restored by 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The National Hurricane Center discontinued all tropical storm warnings as the remnants of Colin speed off into the Atlantic Ocean.
Forecasters said the center of post-tropical cyclone Colin was moving toward the northeast at close to 40 mph. The center of the storm was expected to move away from the North Carolina coast Tuesday and pass east of the mid-Atlantic coast later in the day.
While maximum sustained winds were at 68 mph with higher gusts, the hurricane center said the strongest winds and heaviest rains were southeast of the center and over water.
The forecast calls for Colin to produce additional rainfall of up to 2 inches in eastern North Carolina, and as much as 5 inches of rain across central Florida through Tuesday evening.
The National Weather Service said Tuesday that parts of Pinellas County got 9 inches of rain. Other areas, from Levy to Sarasota counties, were also soaked with 1 to 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as the storm churned its way across the state into southeast Georgia, and The National Hurricane Center said Colin marked the earliest that a third named storm has ever formed in the Atlantic basin.
Scott visited first responders and law enforcement officers in Tampa Tuesday afternoon.
Scott said in an interview that there were no reports of major damage, but the state will be tracking flooding from the sudden deluge of rain, much of which fell during high tides Monday. He said Florida has seen severe flooding in unlikely places after previous storms.
"We'll just see how well it runs off," Scott said. "I always remember back to (Tropical Storm) Isaac in 2012, it went west but we had unbelievable flooding in Palm Beach County."
Not everyone in Florida was hunkering down. About 50 people were in the water with surfboards off Treasure Island to take advantage of the rare 2-3-foot swells breaking in the Gulf's warm waters.
"It's like man against nature," said Derek Wiltison of Atlantic Beach. "Surfers tend to drop what they're doing — work, relationships, whatever — to go out and catch a wave."