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Fred Now A Tropical Wave, But Is Expected To Re-Strengthen

map of tropical wave
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Residents of Central and North Florida are likely to see heavy rain, pockets of flash flooding, and a chance of isolated tornadoes Sunday into Monday.

What had been Tropical Depression Fred is now a tropical wave. But the National Hurricane Center says the "significantly disrupted" system is expected to re-develop on Sunday over the Gulf of Mexico.

In a Saturday morning forecast discussion, the hurricane center said that Fred degenerated into an open wave because of "a combination of shear caused by an upper-level trough over the Gulf of Mexico and land interaction" with Cuba.

However, as that tough moves northward and weakens through Sunday, Fred should re-develop into a tropical depression late Saturday night or on Sunday, with gradual strengthening to a tropical storm over the Gulf of Mexico after the system re-develops, before heading for the northern coast of the Gulf on Monday. Regardless of its status, heavy rain is likely to be the primary threat and a few, brief tornadoes are still possible this weekend.

As of Saturday at 5 p.m., the remnants of Fred were located about 150 miles west-northwest of Havana, Cuba and moving to the west-northwest at 13 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph with higher gusts.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

All coastal watches and warnings have been discontinued at this time, but could go into effect for areas from Mississippi to the central Florida Panhandle Saturday night or Sunday.

Heavy rainfall is still expected across southern Florida, the Big Bend and the Panhandle through Monday, with possible flooding. Heavy rain and flooding could extend into other parts of the southeast after Monday.

The remnants are expected to pass west of the lower Florida Keys Saturday afternoon, turn to the northwest by Saturday night, and to the north on Sunday night, making landfall over the northern Gulf coast Monday night.

However, residents of Florida near the Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Key West — including the greater Tampa Bay region — are still at risk of some coastal impacts from Fred, such as high winds and surge, as it could regain its tropical storm status by Saturday night or Sunday.

The more widespread hazard for all Floridians — including those who live inland and near the Atlantic Coast — is periods of heavy rain, potential flooding and possible tornadoes.

The flood risk is greatest from the Forgotten Coast to the Nature Coast, where 3-7 inches of rain may fall depending on how close Fred tracks.

A second area of heavy rain and potential flooding will occur in South Florida on Saturday as Fred's outer rain bands persist during its journey through the Straits of Florida.

Hurricane center forecasters have also noted that recent model guidance suggests a center re-formation may occur, which could further complicate the forecast.

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

I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.
Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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