Florida prepares for Tropical Storm Fred and tropical depression Grace

  • Florida could face Tropical Storms Fred and Grace in a matter of days.
  • Fred is expected to hit land in the western Florida Panhandle on Monday afternoon or evening.
  • Grace could hit parts of the southeastern US with heavy rains and high winds by the end of the week.

A tropical storm warning was in place for most of the Florida Panhandle on Sunday when the remains of Fred targeted the coast and Grace threatened to follow suit later that week.

Fred, who regained tropical storm status early Sunday, could blow up parts of the panhandle with up to a foot of rain and possibly tornadoes on Monday and Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. And Grace could be worse.

“Evidence suggests that Grace is being tracked a little further north compared to Fred, so places like the United States … could take greater impact compared to Fred,” warned AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, according to a recommendation issued by the National Hurricane Center at 11 p.m. EDT. Fred was about 200 miles south of Panama City, Florida on Sunday afternoon, moving at 9 miles an hour from the north-northwest.

On the forecast route, the system was expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico on Monday afternoon or Monday evening and hit land in the western Florida Panhandle, the weather service said.

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A storm surge warning was issued for parts of the panhandle. Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist, urged residents to follow evacuation and other instructions from local authorities.

“This is a life-threatening situation,” said Beven. “Take whatever measures are necessary to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.”

Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in 23 of Florida’s 67 boroughs. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said authorities in her state would also monitor the storm and encouraged residents to be “weather aware”.

“Fred’s current planned route includes Alabama,” she said. “We are keeping an eye on this storm as the forecast develops and will be ready to act at the country level if necessary.”

Fred roared the Caribbean as a tropical storm earlier this week before turning into depression. It rolled across the Dominican Republic and Haiti, powering up 400,000 homes and businesses before Haiti was then hit by a massive earthquake.

The floods forced the Dominican authorities to shut down part of an aqueduct system, cutting off water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people. Local officials reported that hundreds of people were evacuated and some buildings were damaged.

As Fred continued his march, Grace was demoted to a tropical depression as its maximum sustained winds dropped to 35 mph, below the 39 mph for a tropical storm. It was located 260 miles east-southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The tropical storm warnings for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been discontinued. A tropical storm watch has been issued for Haiti. The storm was moving west at 15 miles per hour.

“The losses are getting high”: 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits Haiti

The storm would compound problems in Haiti, which is still in turmoil following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake early Saturday that destroyed buildings, killed more than 700 people and injured at least 2,800 people. Even before the quake, hospitals in the country of 11 million were grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of resources to cope with it.

Douty said Grace could hit parts of the southeastern US with heavy rains and high winds by the end of the week if she keeps her organization.

Contribution: The Associated Press

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