Fred is barely hanging on but will still bring heavy rain and wind gusts to South Florida
Tropical Depression Fred is extremely disheveled. The circulation center, if there is one, is very near the northern coast of Cuba, while the thunderstorms related to the system are south of the island. It has a long way to go to pull itself together if it’s going to intensify even a little bit before it gets near South Florida tomorrow.
This is why there is no expectation that Fred could be anything but a low-level tropical storm if it can organize some. There just isn’t time.
Hostile upper-level winds and dry air have been keeping Fred from reorganizing. In addition, the deep moisture was stripped out of the system by the mountains in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It takes time for thunderstorms to redevelop and wrap around a center of circulation. That process hasn’t really started.
The big blowup of thunderstorms south of Cuba makes it even harder for Fred to consolidate. There are mountains between that cluster of storms and the circulation center, so they can’t really work together to organize Fred.
The rough center of circulation will track near the northern coast of Cuba today, which will be another factor slowing any reorganization. But tonight, if enough of Fred survives, it should be moving over the deep warm waters south of the Florida Keys – the Straits of Florida. Many a storm has been energized by those waters in the past.
In Fred’s case, however, upper winds that are at least somewhat hostile are forecast to be blowing across the Keys and South Florida. They should further limit significant development of the system.
As a result of the plus and minus of the warm water versus the upper winds, the National Hurricane Center has been alerting us to the possibility that some slight strengthening might take place, with wind gusting over 40 mph.
A major storm or a hurricane is not expected. But because of the possibility of some winds reaching 40 mph, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Florida Keys.
Fred is dragging a lot of disorganized moisture with it, so a nasty rainy day on Saturday seems certain, even outside of the gusty winds. The winds will be especially noticeable at the southeast and south facing beaches to the right of where the center of rotation comes ashore.
A Flood Watch is in effect with several inches of rain forecast across South Florida.
By Sunday, there should be noticeably less wind in South Florida, but the moisture tail is forecast to drag over the peninsula, so periods of rain are still expected. There may be some improvement by Sunday evening as Fred moves north in the Gulf or near the west coast of Florida.
Assuming Fred reorganizes to some degree, the current thinking is that the upper winds could become more conducive for development once the system is in the Gulf past the Keys – if it tracks over the water. Some models indicate the upper winds will become somewhat less hostile to development.
There is lot of uncertainty about this part of the forecast. Everybody on the west coast of Florida and in the Panhandle should plan to stay informed this weekend.
Out in the Atlantic, another tropical disturbance is speeding west. The National Hurricane Center is giving this one a good chance of developing into at least a tropical depression.
It’s coming so fast, that Tropical Storm Watches or Warnings will likely be issued for some of the islands as soon as today.
The disturbance is forecast to be near the eastern Caribbean islands around the weekend. The current long-range forecast is for a track something like Fred’s.
This system is looking like next week’s tropical project for us in Florida.
Until an organized circulation develops, the long-range computer models will not make reliable forecasts. So, as always, we don’t want to put too much stock in the models at this point. The predictions for a week from now are spread all over the place.