Tropical depression Fred may pick up steam before reaching Florida

Tropical depression Fred may pick up steam before reaching Florida

The graph shows Fred’s rain potential over Florida.

Photo: NHC / NOAA / Courtesy

Despite looking disorganized on the satellite, tropical depression Fred may revert to a tropical storm before hitting Florida as early as early Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Meanwhile, the next named system that could affect the United States is forming in the Atlantic, according to CNN.

The forecast for Fred generated tropical storm warnings Friday for the southwest coast of Florida, including Key West and Naples. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

The advisories extend from the Florida Keys west of Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas and all of Florida Bay. A tropical storm watch covers the southwest coast of Florida from Englewood south and east to Ocean Reef.

Fred on Friday afternoon was along the north coast of Cuba with 35 mph winds.

From there, “the storm should continue north of eastern and central Cuba through tonight and near or through the Florida Keys on Saturday,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency declaration for 23 counties on Friday, including Bay, Calhoun, Citrus, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington Counties.

After passing the Keys, the storm should move toward the Gulf of Mexico and toward Florida’s Big Bend.

Some computer models show Fred entering the Florida peninsula, while others place him as far west as the Alabama-Florida border.

Strong rains

Heavy rains are the main threat from this storm, as Cuba could see up to 5 inches of rain in some isolated areas.

Even higher totals are forecast for Florida.

“Heavy rains could flood south and central Florida into the Big Bend region over the weekend,” said CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.

“Much of the Florida peninsula is expected to be on the east side of Fred, which is where the heaviest rains and the strongest winds will be,” the hurricane center said.

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