- Fred would be the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
- The probability that the fault will develop into a tropical storm is 90% within 48 hours.
- Most of Florida remains in the system’s five-day forecast cone.
SARASOTA, Florida – Tropical Storm Fred developed south of Puerto Rico late Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center confirmed towards the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
After a quiet month with no storms in the region, Fred turned the sixth of the Atlantic hurricane season late Tuesday, as expected, and tropical storm warnings were in place for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
“The most important thing today is preparation,” said Puerto Rico’s Governor Pedro Pierluisi. “I’m not going to minimize the potential impact of this event … we expect a lot of rain.”
Florida could be in the storm’s path, but forecasters said it was too early to pinpoint the exact trail.
Data from the aircraft and surface observations suggest the disturbance increased somewhat in strength Tuesday evening, with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph with higher gusts. Additional reinforcement is forecast overnight before Fred arrives in eastern Dominican Republic on Wednesday morning.
Fred was the first storm named since Hurricane Elsa disappeared a month ago on July 9th.
Gradual intensification was forecast and the disruption should turn into a tropical storm Tuesday night, the center said.
The disruption is expected to occur near or over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on late Tuesday and early Wednesday, near or over Hispaniola on Wednesday, and near the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
Heavy rainfall is expected over the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, which could lead to flooding in cities and small streams, as well as possible mudslides. The greatest risk of flooding is in the eastern and southeastern parts of Puerto Rico.
In other locations along the north coast of the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, tropical storms are possible from Wednesday onwards.
The system could intensify once it hits waters south of Florida or the eastern Gulf of Mexico by this weekend, forecasters said. However, this path can change depending on the wind shear and whether the storm is over water or land.
“The system is circulated around a large high pressure area over the central Atlantic to the west-northwest,” said AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.
Florida and the Keys could get in the way of the system. That scenario could unfold as the high pressure area weakens and the system can turn more north, Kottlowski said.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be active, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in an updated forecast last week: 15 to 21 named storms could develop; seven to ten could be hurricanes.
An average season brings seven hurricanes and peaks in August, September and October. If the predictions are correct, this year will be a record year with above-average activity for the sixth year in a row.
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Contributors: Doyle Rice and Jeanine Santucci; The Associated Press