Storm could strengthen as it sets sights on Florida Keys

The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for the Florida Keys on Friday as Fred continued his journey towards the United States.

A tropical storm watch was also in place for parts of the west coast of Florida. While the depression, which soaked parts of Cuba on Friday, was on the way to intensifying into a tropical storm, it was not expected to reach hurricane strength, the Hurricane Center said.

Florida should start feeling Fred’s effects early Saturday, and heavy rainfall could cause flooding. Tropical storms are expected in parts of the state on Saturday.

Fred reached the strength of a tropical storm late Tuesday, soaking the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before continuing its downpour over the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

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The storm weakened to a tropical depression as expected, but forecasters say it could gain momentum on the way to Florida. While there is still uncertainty about his path, Fred could end up in multiple locations in the state, forecasters said.

Fred is the sixth named storm of hurricane season 2021 and the first in August to break a month-long hiatus after Hurricane Elsa formed on July 9th.

Where’s Tropical Depression Fred?

The depression was located about 210 miles southeast of Key West at 5 p.m. EDT on Friday. It was moving at 12 miles per hour from west-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour.

What do the spaghetti models predict for Tropical Depression Fred?

After Fred moved past Cuba later on Friday, it is expected to be near the Florida Keys and South Florida by Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center said its official trail shows Fred over the eastern Gulf, which could lead to further buffing before a final landfall is forecast along the Big Bend or Panhandle early next week.

When is the tropical depression likely to hit Fred on land?

Fred landed in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. The coast of Cuba is scratching on Friday, but it could end up there too. A weekend landfall in the Keys is likely, forecasters say.

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How Strong is Tropical Depression Fred?

The maximum sustained winds hit 40 mph on Wednesday before Fred was downgraded to a tropical depression with winds of 35 mph.

In the Dominican Republic, around 300,000 customers were without electricity, and meteorologists warned of dangerous floods and mudslides after heavy rain. Puerto Rico had 13,000 customers without power after Fred yelled through.

The National Weather Service said the Keys and South Florida could also expect 3 to 5 inches of rain; some areas can reach heights of up to 8 inches by Monday. That increases the possibility of flash floods, said the weather service.

Follow Fred’s path

Contributors: Megan Kearney, Naples Daily News; Charles Ventura, Joel Shannon and Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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