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Tropical Depression Fred making likely comeback as tropical storm

South Florida landfall forecast for Saturday

(Photo: NOAA)

Tropical Depression Fred has lost some steam but will likely make a comeback as a tropical storm prior to landing in South Florida this weekend.

Tropical Storm Fred became the sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season late Tuesday night. It formed in the Caribbean, moving across several islands Wednesday. This land interaction weakened Fred a bit, but the National Hurricane Center is forecasting Fred to regain strength as it moves over the warm open waters of the Caribbean over the next two days.

As of 8 a.m. Thursday, Fred was centered 80 miles northeast of Guantanamo, Cuba. Sustained winds were 35 mph, with higher gusts. Once sustained winds get back to 39 mph, Fred will return to tropical storm status. This will probably happen later Thursday or sometime Friday. Heavy rain continued Thursday morning in Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Fred was moving west-northwest at about 16 mph. The NHC expects this general motion, with a decrease in forward speed, to continue during the next couple of days. On this forecast track, Fred will move across the southeastern Bahamas Thursday, move along or just north of eastern and central Cuba later Thursday and Friday, and be near the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula on Saturday. Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands reported a wind gust of 39 mph Thursday morning.

Fred will move along Florida’s west coast Sunday, brushing by the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Then, a second landfall is likely Monday in the Florida Panhandle.

Coast Guard officials have set some minimal restrictions at the port of Miami and Key West. However, they may tighten restrictions as Fred gets closer to Florida, with mainly low impacts on container cargo. Fred could also cause temporary delays in freight flows on roads across parts of the Southeast.

Rainfall forecast

• Across the Dominican Republic: 3 to 5 inches, with isolated totals of 8 inches. Heavy rainfall Thursday morning could lead to flash flooding, along with possible rapid river rises and the potential for mudslides.
• Over Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, the eastern Bahamas, and portions of Cuba: 1 to 3 inches, with isolated totals of 5 inches.
• Across the western Bahamas: 3 to 5 inches, with isolated totals of 8 inches.
• Beginning Friday into next week, heavy rainfall associated with Fred will impact Florida and parts of the Southeast. Through Monday, the NHC anticipates 3 to 5 inches of rain across the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula, with isolated totals of 8 inches. Heavy rainfall could lead to aerial, urban and small stream flooding, along with possible rapid river rises.

Wind forecast

Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph), mainly in brief squalls, are possible along the northern coast of Haiti and the southeastern Bahamas Thursday morning. Tropical storm conditions are possible in Cuba beginning later Thursday.

Storm surge forecast

Swells generated by Fred are expected to spread across portions of the Bahamas and the northern coast of Cuba during the next couple of days. These swells could reach the Florida Keys and South Florida by early Saturday.

Related: Logistics groups ready to help during potentially busy hurricane season

On average, the sixth named storm develops on Aug. 28, so Fred is more than two weeks ahead of schedule. This is according to a tweet from Philip Klotzbach, a Colorado State University meteorologist who specializes in Atlantic basin hurricane season forecasts.

Fred’s exact path and landfall timing may change a bit, so look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.