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Tropical Storm Colin forms in Gulf of Mexico

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The latest on severe weather across the United States (all times local):

6 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says that Tropical Storm Colin has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is predicted to land in Florida.

Forecasters upgraded the storm from a tropical depression to a tropical storm just before 6 p.m. Sunday. That means Colin has sustained winds of at least 39 mph.

The storm is expected to dump flooding rains on Florida’s Gulf coast when it hits on Monday before quickly passing through to the Atlantic.

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Telecommunications service AT&T has started storm preparedness process as they closely monitor Colin.

The AT&T National Disaster Recovery (NDR) program includes more than 320 technology and equipment trailers that can be quickly deployed to respond to disasters. The NDR team works with local AT&T network personnel, regional emergency operations centers and local response centers to keep service going until permanent repairs are made.

Just as they prepare networks and personnel, AT&T encourages customers to consider the following recommendations in the wake of the storm.

Customer Tips:

Keep your mobile phone battery charged. In case of a power outage, have another way to charge your phone like an extra battery, car charger or device-charging accessory. Sales tax holidays are a great time to stock up on cell phone accessories.

Keep your mobile devices dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water.  Keep it safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering, like an Otterbox phone cover.

Have a family communications plan. Choose someone out of the area as a central contact.   Make sure all family members know who to contact if they get separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.

Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.

Forward your home number to your mobile number in the event of an evacuation. Call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office. This means you will get calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is disrupted. If the central office is not operational, services such as voicemail and call forwarding may be useful.

Track the storm and access weather information on your mobile device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a working mobile device with Internet access, you can watch weather reports through services like AT&T U-verse Live TV . You can also or stay updated with local radar and severe weather alerts through My-Cast® Weather, if you subscribe to those services.

Camera phones provide assistance. If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos and video clips of damage to your insurance company.

Use location-based technology.  Services like AT&T Navigator and AT&T FamilyMap can help you find evacuation routes or avoid traffic from downed trees or power lines. They can also track a family member’s wireless device if you get separated.

Limit social media activity. Keep social media activity to a minimum during and after a storm to limit network congestion and allow for emergency communications to go through.

Small Business Tips:

Set up a call-forwarding service to a backup location. Set up a single or multiple hotline number(s) for employees, their families, customers and partners so they all know about the business situation and emergency plan.

Back up data to the Cloud. Routinely back up files to an off-site location. Services such as Mobile Workplace are great for small businesses.

Outline detailed plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place. Practice these plans (employee training, etc.). Establish a backup location for your business and meeting place for all employees.

Assemble a crisis-management team. Coordinate efforts with neighboring businesses and building management. Disasters that affect your suppliers also affect your business. Outline a plan for supply chain continuity for business needs.

Consider a back-up cellular network. Services like AT&T Remote Mobility Zone protect critical communications for businesses. If a disaster disables primary communications networks, the back-up cellular network can help you stay connected.

Keeping the lines open for emergencies:

During evacuations, the storm event and its aftermath, network resources will likely be taxed. To help ensure that emergency personnel have open lines, keep these tips in mind:

Text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. All of AT&T’s wireless devices are text messaging capable. Depending on your text or data plan, additional charges may apply.

Be prepared for high call volume. During an emergency, many people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to “fast busy” signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.

Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.

Additional information and tips for disaster preparedness can be found at www.att.com/vitalconnections.

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5 p.m. (EDT)

The National Weather Service says a tornado touched down in eastern Indiana when a weekend storm passed over the area.

The weather service’s Wilmington, Ohio, office said Sunday that a tornado with wind speeds of up to 85 mph cut a 1¼ mile path Saturday near Richmond, Indiana. No one was injured by the EF0 tornado, which is the weakest tornado designation the weather service assigns. The Richmond Palladium-Item reports the storm downed trees and tore a roof from a barn.

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3:45 p.m. (EDT)

The National Weather Service is warning of an “enhanced” risk of severe storms in the mid-Atlantic region.

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for much of the area east of the Blue Ridge Mountains through Sunday night. The weather service tweets that there are reports of trees and wires down in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Sterling, Virginia-based meteorologist Chris Strong says the primary threat in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area is from damaging wind gusts and there’s a lesser tornado threat.

Wakefield, Virginia-based meteorologist Lyle Alexander says the threat on the Eastern Shore is from winds and more localized heavy rain.

Mount Holly, New Jersey-based meteorologist Lance Franck says in Delaware the threat is from high winds and downpours bringing flooding to urban areas and areas with poor drainage.

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2 p.m. (CDT)

Authorities have found a body downstream from where they’d been searching for a missing 11-year-old boy who fell into a flooded Kansas creek.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Wichita police Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah says the body was found Saturday by a kayaker. Ramzah couldn’t confirm the identity of the body, other than to say it was a male.

Officials say Devon Dean Cooley fell into Gypsum Creek on May 27. Crews have continued searching for the boy, and say the unidentified body was found about a mile downstream from the search area.

Cooley’s family issued a statement late Saturday saying they believe the body to be Devon’s but also acknowledging the absence of official confirmation.

Police say the body likely won’t be identified until a coroner’s investigation is completed.

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2:40 p.m.

The last day of a music festival scheduled to include Kanye West and Death Cab for Cutie among the performers is canceled because of weather concerns.

The organizers of the Governors Ball said events on Sunday weren’t going to be held “due to severe weather and a high likelihood of lightning in the area.” Strong winds and thunderstorms were predicted for the area through Sunday night.

The annual event is held on Randall’s Island in New York City and usually goes for three days. Among those who performed on Friday and Saturday were Elle King, the Strokes, Beck, Miguel and De La Soul.

Organizers said ticket holders would be getting refunds.

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1:15 p.m.

Southern Arizona could see record high temperatures again.

The National Weather Service says if Phoenix hits 114 degrees on Sunday, it will mark the third day in a row setting record high temperatures in Arizona’s Urban Heart.

Much of Southern Arizona, from Phoenix to Nogales, is under an excessive heat warning.

Other western and southwestern U.S. states are experiencing above-normal temperatures in the triple-digits.

Officials are warning residents to stay hydrated and avoid the outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when temperatures are highest.

The Arizona Department of Health also says that neither people nor pets should be left in cars. It takes only 10 minutes for a car to reach deadly temperatures.

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11:40 a.m.

Fort Hood officials have identified the last of nine soldiers who died in Texas floodwaters during a training exercise as a 25-year-old Army specialist from California.

Army officials said Sunday that Spc. Yingming Sun enlisted in 2013 and first arrived at Fort Hood nearly two years ago.

He and eight others who were identified Saturday died when fast-moving waters washed a 2 ½-ton vehicle from a low-water crossing Thursday. Three others soldiers survived and have returned to duty.

Heavy and persistent storms the past two weeks have dumped more than a foot of rain in parts of Texas. The rain is expected to diminish this week and dry out areas in southeast Texas, where officials gave evacuation order to about 2,000 homes.

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11:30 a.m.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for a large stretch of Florida’s Gulf coast from Indian Pass in the northern Panhandle to Englewood south of Tampa.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami issued the warning before noon EDT Sunday. Tropical storm conditions — including heavy rain and strong wind — are expected to reach the area under the warning by Monday afternoon.

The storm — moving north at about 8 mph (13 kph) — is expected to become a tropical storm before reaching the Florida coast. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 kph).

Isolated tornadoes are possible Monday afternoon in parts of Florida and southern Georgia.

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Hurricane officials say a storm in the northwestern Caribbean Sea could develop into a tropical storm before hitting Florida with flooding rain.

The National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane will investigate the storm near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Sunday afternoon. It already contained thunderstorms and near tropical storm strength winds.

There is a 90 percent chance the weather system could develop into a tropical depression or named storm by Sunday night or Monday morning.

Regardless of development, heavy rains and flooding are expected in the Yucatan Peninsula, western Cuba, the Florida Keys and Florida’s Gulf Coast over the next few days.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott planned a briefing with state emergency management officials Sunday afternoon.

Sand bags were being distributed to residents in St. Petersburg, Tampa and nearby cities.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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