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Tropical Storm Colin hits Florida

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(CNN) — Tropical Storm Colin brought heavy rains and wind gusts as it made landfall in Florida early Tuesday.

And there could be more rough weather to come as the storm moves into the Atlantic Ocean, forecasters warned.

Florida is facing flooding, with Gov. Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency before the storm even hit. Rains have also pounded southern Georgia and South Carolina.

“This is a very quick-moving storm system,” CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said.

But even as the storm headed toward the Atlantic Ocean, it left its mark behind on land.

In Florida, flooding across the Tampa Bay area left drivers stranded Tuesday morning. Photos from CNN affiliate Bay News 9 showed downed trees and roads that looked like rivers.

Storm will hug coast, head out to sea

Colin was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and moving toward the northeast at 33 mph Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

“The center of Colin should move near and parallel to the coast of North Carolina this morning,” the hurricane center said. “However, it’s important to note that the strongest winds and heaviest rains are well removed from the center.”

By Wednesday afternoon, forecasters said, the storm will be in the Atlantic. The hurricane center said it is expected to strengthen somewhat, but it will “lose its tropical cyclone characteristics” come nightfall.

NOAA

NOAA

“We’re looking at another 24 hours of heavy rain from Florida to the coastal Carolinas before it heads out to sea,” CNN senior meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

A tropical storm warning is in effect from Surf City, North Carolina, to Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.

Making the best of it

As the storm started to roll in Monday, Cliff York and his family leaned over a wall at their beach hotel in Clearwater, Florida, to take in the scene.

It isn’t what they had in mind when they left Vincennes, Indiana, for a Florida vacation.

“Sounds like the weather is better in Indiana than it is here,” York joked. “Maybe we just should have stayed there.”

But York said they’ll still find a way to relax.

“We got two sunny days in Orlando,” he said. “Now we have to make the best of what we can while we’re here.”

Dylan Fagan, who lives in Fleming Island, Florida, near Jacksonville, said the rain came out of nowhere and blew through really quickly. He picked up this children early from day care Monday as a precaution.

Earliest third storm on record

Colin is the third tropical storm to form this year in the Atlantic. It’s the earliest that three named storms have hit the region, besting the previous record — which was set in 1887 — by about a week.

Hurricane season officially began June 1. But tropical systems can form during any month of the year.

This year, two named storms formed before the season’s official start.

Alex became a named storm on January 13, the first Atlantic hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938.

Bonnie drenched South Carolina’s coast last month.

Does it mean anything to see storms forming so early?

Not necessarily, forecasters say.

“These first three storms have been very weak systems, even though Bonnie produced a lot of rain in South Carolina,” CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said. “This really means very little when it comes down to how this year may turn out.”