Tropical Storm Fred strengthens on path toward Florida

Fred restrengthened into a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico as it was forecast to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Photo courtesy of NOAA

Aug. 16 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Fred was moving across the Gulf of Mexico as it prepared to make landfall in the United States on Monday afternoon, forecasters said.

In its 1 a.m. CDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was located 175 miles south of Panama City, Fla., and 165 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola. It had slowed over the last few hours and was moving north-northwest at 6 mph.

The forecasters said heavy rainfall and a dangerous storm surge is expected along the coast of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend on Monday.

The storm brought tropical storm conditions to the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Wednesday, and Cuba later in the week, but weakened to a tropical depression after passing over the island of Hispaniola.

It regained strength as a tropical storm at 8 a.m. Sunday.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the coast of the Florida Panhandle from Navarre to the Wakulla/Jefferson County line.

A storm surge warning was in effect for the coast of the Florida Panhandle from Indian Pass to Steinhatchee River and along the Florida coast east of Steinhatchee River to Yankeetown.

The NHC said it continued to produce heavy rains across western Cuba on Saturday morning and was expected to bring tropical storm conditions to Key West later in the day.

Fred is likely to make impact as a tropical storm along the Florida, Alabama or Mississippi Gulf Coast on Monday afternoon.

“On the forecast track, the center of Fred should move across the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico through today, and make landfall in the western Florida Panhandle this afternoon or Monday night,” the NHC said.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Grace formed early Saturday.

Fred follows five other named storms in the Atlantic basin so far this year — Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and Elsa. Of those five, Elsa was the only one to gain hurricane strength.


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