The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm watch for parts of South Florida on Thursday as Fred, downgraded to a tropical depression overnight, continued its trek toward the state.
The watch included the Florida Keys and stretches north along the western coast of the state to Bonita Beach, about 20 miles south of Fort Myers. While the storm, which was pressing through the Bahamas and Cuba on Thursday, was on track to strengthen, it wasn’t expected to reach hurricane strength, the Hurricane Center said.
The risk of Fred impacting the Sunshine State was increasing as it brought heavy rain and flooding risks to the Caribbean island nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, according to the hurricane center.
Florida may being feeling Fred’s effects as early as Friday, and heavy rainfall could lead to flooding. Tropical storm conditions are expected Saturday. Fred could potentially make landfall in the Keys and south Florida, according to the weather service.
Fred reached tropical storm strength late Tuesday and drenched the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before continuing its downpour on the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
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The storm weakened to a tropical depression, as expected, but forecasters say it will gain momentum en route to Florida. While there is still uncertainty about its track, Fred could make landfall in the state in multiple locations, forecasters said.
Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2021 hurricane season and first in August, breaking a month-long lull after Hurricane Elsa formed July 9.
Where is Tropical Depression Fred?
The storm was about 450 miles east-southeast of Key West and 200 miles southeast of South Andros Island in the Bahamas as of 11 p.m. EDT Thursday. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.
What do the spaghetti models forecast for Tropical Depression Fred?
The National Weather Service said Fred is expected to slow down over the next few days.
After Fred moves past Cuba, it’s expected to be near the Florida Keys and south Florida on Saturday.
The National Hurricane Center said its official track shows Fred over the eastern Gulf, which could lead to more strengthening, before a final landfall is forecast along the Big Bend region or the panhandle late in the weekend or early next week.
When is Tropical Depression Fred expected to make landfall?
Fred made landfall in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. Forecasts show it scaling the coast of Cuba, but it could make landfall there, too. A weekend landfall in the Keys and South Florida is possible, forecasts say.
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How strong is Tropical Depression Fred?
Maximum sustained winds reached 40 mph Wednesday before Fred was downgraded to a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph.
In the Dominican Republic, about 300,000 customers were without power, and forecasters warned there was a risk dangerous flooding and mudslides after heavy rain. Puerto Rico had 13,000 customers without power after Fred roared through.
In Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, eastern Bahamas and eastern Cuba, rainfall up to 5 inches was possible, the Weather Service said. The western Bahamas could see 3 to 5 inches, with isolated areas up to 8 inches.
In Florida, winds and rain could come as soon as Friday. The Weather Service said the Keys and southern Florida could also expect to see 3 to 5 inches of rain; some areas could get up to 8 inches through Monday. That raises the possibility of flash flooding, the Weather Service said.
Track Fred’s path
Contributing: Megan Kearney, Naples Daily News; Charles Ventura, Joel Shannon and Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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