Monday, June 6, 2016

Tropical Storm Coliln Causing Trouble In Florida, And Southeast

Strong upper level winds are making Tropical
Storm Colin not look like a traditional tropical
storm, but it's packing punch in Florida 
Tropical Storm Colin blossomed in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday and is going to cause a ton of trouble in Florida today, and in parts of the Carolinas Tuesday.

Colin was a disorganized mess this morning as it approached northern Florida from the Gulf of Mexico, but don't let that fool you. Heavy rain - up to eight inches of it -- will cause quite a bit of flooding.    

Storm surges will reach one to three feet on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida from Tampa north.  That doesn't sound like much until you consider the Florida coast is not like New England's.

The land doesn't rise in elevation going inland in Florida, so storm surges can cause quite a bit of damage to buildings in Florida coastal towns, since a lot of real estate is less than three feet above sea level there.

Overall winds will probably peak around 50 mph in Florida as Colin passes through.  Gusts will get higher than that, so there will be damage to trees, carports, roofs, trees, that sort of thing.

Strong upper level winds are making Colin that disorganized mess. We're used to seeing nice circular tropical storms and hurricanes on satellite pictures, but Colin is just a mass of ragged, mean looking clouds.

The strong winds in the upper atmosphere, called wind shear, are making Colin look so messy, and will prevent it from strengthening into a hurricane. (You want light winds aloft over a tropical storm to make it strengthen.)

That same wind shear that's not letting Collin strengthen will make some of the storm's thunderstorms spin as they get into Florida and southern Georgia.  Some thunderstorms, once they get to spinning, can drop tornadoes, so that's a threat along the path of Colin, for sure.

Weather had already gotten bad in Florida by late morning. Strong storms, high winds and heavy rains were hitting parts of the state.

Colin will cross southern Florida tonight and move pretty close to the Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina coasts Tuesday before heading out to sea.

Don't pay too much attention to the path of Colin's exact center. Especially since Colin is not the classic, symmetrical tropical storm. A wide swath of land in Florida, southern Georgia, South Carolina and much of North Carolina are in for some rough weather.

It's awfully early in the hurricane season to be on the third one already. This is the earliest on record we've gotten to the letter "C" in the list of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.

This doesn't mean we're going to have a blockbuster hurricane season with tons and tons of storms. In fact, the National Hurricane Center predicts an average season.

Still it only takes one super strong hurricane to cause a huge disaster.

Colin isn't a super strong storm, but as I said it isn't super strong. A major hurricane is definied as one having sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

The United States coast hasn't been hit by a storm that strong at landfall since Wilma in 2005. That's the longest period of time on record the nation has gone without a major hurricane. We're way overdue.

Colin will certainly cause damage, though. And Bonnie, last week, already has with the flooding it caused in South and North Carolina. The Carolinas are getting two tropical storms within two weeks.

Lucky them.

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