Tropical Storm Fred Makes Landfall In Florida Panhandle, Flash Flooding Possible
Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in Cape San Blas in the Florida Panhandle, and that area could receive up to a foot of rain. The greater Tampa Bay region could experience rain bands and dangerous rip currents.
Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Monday afternoon, bringing dangerous storm surge and heavy rains to the Panhandle and Big Bend area.
A National Hurricane Center update at 3:15 p.m. said the center of Tropical Storm Fred made landfall near Cape San Blas, south of Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach — which was decimated by Hurricane Michael nearly three years ago — with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph with higher gusts.
Portions of the Panhandle are under a storm surge warning, from Indian Pass to Yankeetown in Levy County, and a tropical storm warning is in effect from Navarre to the Wakulla-Jefferson County line.
Fred gradually gained strength as it moved north through the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network.
A tropical storm warning has been issued from Navarre east to Steinhatchee.
Ray Hawthorne, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says the first rain bands were coming ashore early Monday morning and conditions are expected to deteriorate in these areas as the day wears on.
"Four to 8 inches of rain, with isolated amounts up to 1 foot, are likely to cause flash flooding in the Panhandle and Big Bend areas today and tonight,” Hawthorne said. “Tropical storm conditions are likely from Tallahassee westward starting late this morning. Isolated, brief tornadoes are also possible as far east as the Nature Coast, The Villages, Ocala, Gainesville, and Lake City this afternoon and tonight."
Hawthorne said occasional rain bands are likely to continue into Tuesday, mainly over North Florida.
Storm surge flooding of 3-5 feet above normally dry ground is expected along the coast from Apalachicola to Steinhatchee, with an inundation of 2-4 feet possible as far east and south along the Nature Coast to Yankeetown.
Top winds of 40 to 50 mph may extend inland to the I-10 corridor between Crestview and Tallahassee by early afternoon. Winds of these magnitudes could cause sporadic power outages from fallen trees and power lines, with some property damage to unsteady structures.
The highest water levels will likely occur at high tide or just before Fred's center passes to the north, which will be at 9:30 am EDT in Apalachicola and 7:55 am in Cedar Key.
A few tornadoes could be spawn from Fred's outer rainbands, aided by the low-level spin of the tropical cyclone. The risk for a brief tornado is greatest on the eastern side of Fred's path, extending as far east as the I-75 corridor in North Florida Monday afternoon and early evening.
Tropical Storm Fred is expected to weak rapidly after moving inland and crossing into southeastern Alabama overnight.
Fred’s passing past the greater Tampa Bay region will generate winds that could result in minor storm surge and coastal flooding over the Nature Coast on Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Hernando and Citrus counties are under a coastal flood advisory, and Tampa Bay-area beaches will be at a high risk of rip currents through at least Tuesday morning.
A few rain bands associated by Fred could also produce periods of heavy downpours along some coastal areas that could result in localized flooding — mainly along the Nature Coast.
But across the region, the weather center says Fred will draw deep tropical moisture into the region and produce scattered to numerous thunderstorms.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Grace is south of Hispaniola early Monday morning and is expected to remain south of Florida later this week, Hawthorne said. And, newly formed Tropical Depression 8 near Bermuda may become Tropical Storm Henri later Monday and is expected to remain over the Atlantic for the next few days.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.