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Tropical Storm Fred eyes US landfall this weekend

Could hit South Florida as early as Saturday

(Photo: NOAA)

Updated August 11 at 11 a.m. ET.

Tropical Storm Fred became the sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season late Tuesday night.

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.

Klotzbach also said that, since 1966, only five other named storms have formed earlier in the season than Fred. They happened in 2020, 2005, 2012, 2017 and 1995.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Fred was centered 25 miles south-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sustained winds increased to 45 mph from 40 mph earlier Wednesday morning, with higher gusts recorded. Tropical storm-force winds extended up to 60 miles from the center, compared to 45 miles earlier Wednesday.

A flash flood watch remains in place for Puerto Rico as Fred continues to produce periods of heavy rain today on portions of the island. Some places could see rain totals of 6 inches, along with mudslides.

Fred is moving west-northwest at about 16 mph. On the National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast track, Fred’s center should be near or over the island of Hispañiola later Wednesday, move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday and move north of the northern coast of central Cuba on Friday. The National Hurricane Center has issued tropical storm watches and warnings for these areas.

Fred’s winds will likely weaken as it moves across Hispaniola, but flooding and mudslides could still be issues as some areas may receive 4 to 6 inches of total rain.

Fred could make landfall early Saturday in the Florida Keys, with sustained winds of 45 mph and gusts up to 60 mph. However, landfall could be as far north as Miami, or Fred may not make a direct hit at all in South Florida. In any event, flooding and wind damage are likely. Fred is then forecast to brush by the Tampa-St. Petersburg area Sunday, hitting the Florida Panhandle Monday.

At 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) set port condition X-ray for the Port of Key West based on projected arrival of gale force winds from Tropical Storm Fred. All regulated facilities are required to submit a Facility Readiness Survey to the Captain of the Port prior to a higher port condition level being set.

The storm’s exact path and landfall timing will likely 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.