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Tropical Storm Fred Forms In Caribbean, Is A Potential Threat To Florida This Weekend

Tropical Storm Fred forecast track
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The system became a tropical storm late Tuesday night and remains on a path that could bring it near the greater Tampa Bay region by Sunday morning.

A potential tropical cyclone became Tropical Storm Fred late Tuesday night as expected and remains firmly on a path toward Florida.

The sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, Fred formed south of Puerto Rico and was nearing the coast of the Dominican Republic early Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday at 5 p.m., Fred was located about 75 miles west-northwest of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds have dropped to 40 mph with higher gusts.

There have been no significant changes to the overall track or intensity forecasts with Fred. However, in the "key messages" issued with the 11 a.m. advisory, forecasters have noted that there is an "increasing risk" of wind and rainfall impacts from Fred across Florida, beginning Friday night in the Keys and spreading northward through portions of the Peninsula and Panhandle Saturday through Monday.

Portions of Cuba are under a tropical storm watch.

Tropical Storm Fred Shear Status map
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Ray Hawthorne, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says it's likely to be near Florida or the eastern Gulf of Mexico this weekend but it has some obstacles in its way.

"The high mountains of Hispaniola should cause Fred to weaken later [Wednesday],” Hawthorne said. “Wind shear and its close proximity to Cuba should prevent rapid re-strengthening before the storm reaches the Florida Straits on Friday night. However, some rain and squally weather could reach the Florida Keys and South Florida late Friday night into Saturday."

The latest forecast indicates there is a good chance of Fred reaching the eastern Gulf of Mexico late Saturday night or Sunday — and off the coast of the greater Tampa Bay region by Sunday morning.

Hawthorne said if that occurs, Fred could regain tropical storm status before potentially affecting other parts of the Sunshine State on Sunday or early next week.

On its current track, Fred would make landfall somewhere in the Florida Panhandle early Monday morning.

Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.

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