Tropical Storm Colin threatens Southeast U.S. - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tropical Storm Colin threatens Southeast U.S.

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(NBC) - A strengthening tropical depression was bearing down on Florida and the southeastern U.S. on Monday, with forecasters warning of strong winds and the potential for serious flooding from heavy rains.

The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Colin was worsening as of 4 a.m. ET and moving towards Tampa Bay. It is expected to make landfall on Monday with winds of up to 50 mph.

As much as 8 inches of rain is forecast to fall across an area from Mexico's northeast Yucatan peninsula to western Cuba — and north to western Florida, eastern Georgia and coastal areas of the Carolinas.

"Every Florida family and visitor needs to prepare now," Governor Rick Scott said on Twitter.

The Georgia coast and the north Florida Atlantic coast were placed under a tropical storm watch Sunday evening.

With the possibility of 12-foot waves, the Coast Guard urged boaters to stay out of the water until Tuesday, NBC Miami reported. Authorities were distributing sandbags to residents in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, according to NBC station WBBH of Fort Myers.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm was moving Northeast at up to 15 mph.

"On this track, the center of Colin is forecast to approach the coast of the Florida Big Bend area [Monday] afternoon or evening, move across portions of Florida and southeastern Georgia early Tuesday morning, and move near the southeastern coast of the United States later on Tuesday," it said in an update.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50 mph "with higher gusts," it added.

"Some additional slow strengthening is possible during the next 48 hours. The combination of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters," the center said.

Colin is the latest in a series of severe weather events across the country, from record-breaking heat in the West to flooding in Texas and storms that are expected to cause problems in the nation's capital and mid-Atlantic region.

Although the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season began five days ago, Colin is the third storm of the year.

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