Tropical Storm Colin may have flooded parts of Manatee County, but its wrath moved on Monday night.
“The storm will be well northeast of us by tomorrow, but lots of moisture is going to remain over the area,” John McMichael, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Monday evening. “That, along with daytime heating and a trough of low pressure, is going to combine to give us periods of rain during the day on and off. It’s going to be a lot of tropical downpours and isolated thunderstorms throughout the remainder of the week.”
As of Monday evening, Colin had moved to the area just south of Apalachicola. McMichael said the tropical storm would head across north Florida and southeast Georgia overnight. Heavy rains from Colin were spreading across much of Florida, southern Georgia and South Carolina, according to a public advisory by the National Hurricane Center.
According to McMichael, Manatee and Sarasota counties were expected to see heavy rain on and off on Tuesday, with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s.
The storm delivered at least 2 inches of rain and 40 mph tropical storm force winds Monday, officials said.
Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 34 counties in Florida due to Colin.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge was closed at 11:15 a.m. due to winds of 52 mph at the top of the bridge. It remained closed as of 8 p.m. Monday.
Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and other coastal areas in Manatee and Sarasota had significant rain overnight Sunday and throughout Monday.
On Monday evening, several roads on the island were flooded, including long stretches of Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. As motorists approached Bradenton Beach, a yellow sign along the sidewalk read: “STREET FLOODING DRIVE SLOW.”
A few brave souls leaned against the gusty winds just before 5 p.m. and walked onto Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. Among them were Kelsey Robb, 23, and her uncle Rick Gutierrez, 47, of Peoria, Ill. They said they came to see the waves and feel the winds.
“It’s awesome!” Robb said, her eyes squinting as large droplets fell. “It’s intense... it’s definitely impressive.”
Nearby, Sarasota resident Trish Cavanaugh stood at the beach holding her phone, her arm outstretched. She had just dropped off a friend on the island.
“I couldn’t drive by without taking a look at the beach,” the smiling Cavanaugh added as her raincoat hood whipped furiously around her face. “It’s pretty amazing.”
In Cortez, boats crashed against the Cortez Bridge as onlookers stood and watched. The U.S. Coast Guard in Cortez responded to several storm-related calls Monday, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Eric Woodall. The calls included helping two adults and a 5-year-old out of a disabled vessel near Bradenton Beach, and assisting an elderly man whose vessel was pushed onto shallow water after getting hit by two other vessels in the area of Jewfish Key.
There was flooding in the Rubonia neighborhood north of Palmetto, and Anna Maria Island experienced on-and-off bouts of rain on Monday, but the gulf was in constant motion. Around 8:30 a.m., cars started to pile into the Anna Maria Island public works sandbag station, where residents can come to fill as many bags as they need to protect their homes from flooding. Some parts of Gulf Drive were submerged as cars created wakes, splashing dark water onto sidewalks and lawns.
The weather didn’t deter beachgoers. While a red flag fluttered at the Manatee Public Beach lifeguard stand, residents and visitors alike took selfies, searched for shells and enjoyed the sound of the waves.
Former resident Sara Dasher said it beat sitting inside and staring at each other, as she watched her husband Blake push their 18-month-old daughter Shelby on the swings at the beach.
Seagulls and sandpipers danced on the sand, evading the constant flux of foamy waves. Some of those waves washed over sea turtle nests, but only time will tell what happens to the eggs.
Suzi Fox, executive director of AMI Turtle Watch, said that it’s illegal to handle turtle eggs and dangerous to be on the beach during a storm. Turtle Watch volunteers aren’t even allowed to be on the beach to monitor nests during storms like Colin.
“It’s heartwrenching,” Fox said. A beachgoer might think they’re doing good by saving a turtle egg, but Fox said doing so would skew data about nesting.
“It’s best to leave nature alone,” she said.
It appeared that Colin was a one-day event for Manatee, with conditions improving overnight.
Although there has been no river flooding yet, that is a concern for Tuesday and Wednesday, said Don Hermey, Manatee County’s Emergency Management Chief.
“We will be checking river gauges,” Hermey said. “Winds of this speed are capable of causing old branches and to come down and, if there is a super saturation of the ground, a tree could be uprooted. A big concern is going to be rip tides and beach erosion.”
Bradenton Herald staff writers Hannah Morse and Claire Aronson contributed to this story.
Looking ahead to Tuesday-Saturday, according to the National Weather Service
Forecast for Tuesday-Friday: Tropical downpours and isolated thunderstorms, temperatures in upper 80s to lower 90s
Saturday: 40 percent chance of scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms throughout the day, temperatures in the upper 80s.