This hurricane season has been abnormally active and the impacts are already being felt. As of early Thursday morning, more than a dozen forecast models have found that the storm that has been nicknamed “Fred” will likely make landfall on the Florida Panhandle, although it is expected to intensify to a hurricane before making landfall. The impacts of the storm are already being felt: thousands of students are being evacuated from schools across the state and power outages could last for weeks in the hardest hit areas.
Keep an eye on the forecast for the next few days, and you may see a few storms that are not named “Nate”, “Michael”, or “Sandy”. We have no idea what the name of this storm will be, or where it will make landfall. But, based on what the latest weather models show, it is likely to be named “Fred”, and will impact Florida as a tropical storm.
While we were all watching the Eastern Caribbean Basin for the possibility of Tropical Storm Grace, a second Tropical Storm was brewing in the Western Atlantic Ocean. There’s no sign of this storm yet, but it’s called ‘Fred’ and it’s likely to impact Florida as a Tropical Storm. Fred is a tropical wave located at latitude 15.2°N, longitude 116.1°W. Fred is currently moving west-northwest at 8 kts (13 km/h) speed with maximum sustained winds near 40 kts (66 km/h), and the minimum central pressure is near 1,020 hPa.
Despite its chaotic appearance on satellite, the tropical depression is expected to develop again into a tropical storm before hitting Florida as early as Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, the next named system that may affect the US is developing.
Tropical storm warnings were issued for the southwest Florida coast on Friday, including Key West and Naples, due to the forecast for Fred. Tropical storm conditions are anticipated anywhere inside the warning region within 36 hours, according to a tropical storm warning.
The warnings include the whole Florida Bay area, from the Florida Keys west of Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas. From Englewood south and east to Ocean Reef, the southwest coast of Florida is under a tropical storm warning.
Fred was sailing near Cuba’s northern coast on Friday afternoon, with 35 mph winds.
According to the National Hurricane Center, “the storm should track roughly north of eastern and central Cuba through tonight and close or over the Florida Keys on Saturday.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a State of Emergency Friday for 23 counties, including Bay, Calhoun, Citrus, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.
The storm is expected to travel into the Gulf of Mexico and into Florida’s Big Bend after passing through the Keys. Some computer models predict Fred will move into the Florida Peninsula, while others predict it will go as far west as the Alabama-Florida state line.
“The models continue to indicate a gradual strengthening of Fred before it makes landfall in Florida’s eastern panhandle or Big Bend region,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said midday Friday. “None of the global models predict Fred reaching hurricane intensity, but storms in the Gulf of Mexico are notorious for rapidly intensifying.”
The greatest danger is still heavy rain.
On Friday morning, eastern Cuba was drenched with rain. This storm’s primary danger is heavy rain, with some isolated locations of Cuba receiving up to 5 inches of rain.
In Florida, even higher totals are expected.
“Heavy rains may cause flooding throughout southern and central Florida, as well as the Big Bend area, this weekend,” CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said.
The hurricane center said, “Much of the Florida peninsula is anticipated to be on the east side of Fred, which is where the heaviest rainfall and highest winds will be.”
According to the hurricane center, 3 to 7 inches of rain is expected over the Keys and in southern and central Florida north toward the Big Bend from Friday to Monday. Up to 10 inches of snow may fall in isolated areas.
“Heavy rain will spread into other parts of the Southeast, including Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas, beginning Sunday and continuing until the start of next week,” Chinchar added.
Grace has the potential to be much more powerful than Fred.
Fred isn’t the only storm in the Atlantic attracting notice.
“Many are already monitoring the next disturbance after Fred, kind of how everyone’s favorite athlete is the backup quarterback,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the tropical disturbance several hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles has improved in organization and is now Tropical Depression Seven. Grace, a tropical storm, is anticipated to develop into a tropical storm on Friday night.
This would be the season’s sixth named storm.
The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, as well as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy, have issued new tropical storm watches. Tropical storm watches were issued for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, Saba, and St. Eustatius on Friday morning.
Tropical storm conditions are probable inside the watch region over the next 48 hours, according to a tropical storm watch.
On Saturday night, the storm is anticipated to pass over the Leeward Islands, affecting Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on Sunday. Through the weekend, tropical storm-force gusts (at least 39 mph) and three to six inches of rain are anticipated in these regions.
Computer prediction models indicate that this may be the next storm of an above-average season.
“The secondary system may be a bigger storm than Fred,” Chinchar warned. “Many models predict that Grace will become a hurricane, perhaps a Category 2 or 3 storm. Much of this will be determined by the storm’s path, which seems to be further east than Fred at the moment.”
Due to probable land contact with Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, the storm is expected to peak as a moderate tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center’s prediction.
Over the next several days, a lot may happen, and this is a storm to keep an eye on.
Rebekah Riess of CNN contributed to this story.
This morning, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Storm Fred to the status of a hurricane. At present, the storm is forecast to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle later today and move up the Florida coast.. Read more about tropical storm fred track and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Fred a hurricane or tropical storm?
Fred is a hurricane.
Was Fred a hurricane?
I am not able to answer this question.
What storm is behind Fred?
Fred is standing in front of a storm.
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