Storms threaten East Coast; Florida under tropical storm warning

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Severe Weather Threatens Half The Country

While the U.S. West Coast sweated out a heat wave, forecasters warned of severe thunderstorms along the East Coast on Sunday and issued a tropical storm warning for Florida's Gulf Coast.

Weekend plans could be rained out for millions of people from New York through North Carolina, as thunderstorms were expected to blast winds up to 55 miles (90 km) per hour later on Sunday. Hail and tornadoes were also possible.

SEE ALSO: Severe thunderstorm and heavy rain threat increases this weekend in the Midwest and East

National forecasters also issued a tropical storm warning for Florida's Gulf Coast after a tropical depression gusting winds around 35 miles per hour formed about 125 miles northwest of Cozumel, Mexico.

The warning affected the coastline from Englewood to Indian Pass in the Florida Panhandle. The system was expected to strengthen into a tropical storm before approaching Florida's coast on Monday afternoon and evening, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

On its current track, the center would land around the Big Bend region near the Panhandle, the agency said.

The storm could dump as much as eight inches of rain on the state, with the potential for one to three feet of flooding if storm surge occurs at high tide, the hurricane center said. Sandbags were being made available in the Tampa area.

Florida heightened the response level of its State Emergency Operations Center on Sunday to provide emergency planning and support, but had not fully activated all emergency functions.

"As we continue to closely monitor this tropical depression, Floridians should remain vigilant and have an emergency plan for their families and businesses in place today," Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement.

The storm, which forecasters will name Colin, is part of a brisk start to the Atlantic hurricane season running through November 30. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Carolinas were lashed by heavy rain and winds from Tropical Storm Bonnie.

Meanwhile, the western United States sweltered under a heat wave that was expected to bring record high temperatures.

The National Weather Service predicted temperatures well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) for parts of southern California, Arizona and Nevada, with unseasonable heat also afflicting inland areas of the Pacific Northwest.

In Texas, where torrential rains led to flooding last week that killed at least 16 people, the waters were expected to recede as the weather dries out, said Mark Null, hydrologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service's West Gulf River Forecast Center.

"It's going to be a slow drain," he said in a telephone interview.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Meredith Mazzilli)

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East coast weather and storms, tornado Virginia
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Storms threaten East Coast; Florida under tropical storm warning
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25 The remains of a home lie in the path of destruction from a tornado that barreled through the small community of Waverly,the day before on February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25: Paul Logan, 21, talks about the tornado that barreled through the small community of Waverly, VA the day before on February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Logan said it sounded like a bomb exploded in the front of his home during the storm. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25 The remains of a home lie in the path of destruction from a tornado that barreled through the small community of Waverly,the day before on February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25: A tree lays on a house a day after a tornado barreled through the small community of Waverly, on February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25 Sussex, County deputy, Larry Anthony, right, and Investigator, Eddie Oburn look over the remains of a home where two men and a child were killed when a tornado barreled through the small community of Waverlym the day before on February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25: Sussex, County deputy, Larry Anthony, (C) and Investigator, Eddie Oburn, (L), look over the remains of a home where two men and a child were killed when a tornado barreled through the small community of Waverly on February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25: The remains of the house that held 3 victims, two men and a child, when a tornado tore through the structure are seen February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VIRGINIA Ã FEBRUARY 25, 2016: Sussex, County deputy, Larry Anthony, left, and Investigator, Eddie Oburn look over the remains of a home where two men and a child were killed when a tornado barreled through the small community of Waverly the day before February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VA - FEBRUARY 25: The remains of the house that held 3 victims, two men and a child, when a tornado tore through the structure are seen February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
WAVERLY, VIRGINIA Ã FEBRUARY 25, 2016: Sussex, County Investigator, Eddie Oburn walks past a truck that was crushed by a tree during a storm the day before February 25, 2016 in Waverly, Virginia. Virginia's Governor McAuliffe declared a state of emergency after a storm system spawned tornados that killed four people on February 24, and the Virginia National Guard expects to have more than 50 soldiers on duty to help emergency response. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
Timothy Williams looks over a car in front of his destroyed mobile home as he walks through debris left by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Williams was in the car that he is standing next to when a storm swept through the area. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Laundromat manager Brad Poindexter, of Danville, Va., jumps over bricks at his damaged business after a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Laundromat manager Brad Poindexter, of Danville, Va., walks over bricks at his damaged business after a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Spectators walk through debris left by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Spectators look over debris left in the downtown area left by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Rahim Logan, left, and Antoinette Bendrick clear debris from driveway in front of their damaged home after a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Stairs and a destroyed foundation is all that is left from a mobile home that was carried across a highway by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
An overturned car rest on a highway next to the foundation of a mobile home that was throw across the highway by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Timothy Williams talks on a phone in front of his destroyed mobile home as he walks though debris left by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Williams said he was in the car that he is standing next to when a storm swept through the area. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Timothy Williams talks on a phone in front of his destroyed mobile home as he walks though debris left by a deadly storm that swept through Waverly, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Williams said he was in the car that he is standing next to when a storm swept through the area. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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