wplg logo

Fred spreads rain into South Florida while Tropical Storm Grace heads for the Caribbean islands

Satellite imaging of Tropical Depression Fred (WPLG)

What’s left of Fred is edging toward the waters west of the Florida Keys. It’s not much of a tropical system, but it has a lot of tropical moisture. The circulation could never get fully get going again after it rammed into the big mountains in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

In fact, a secondary circulation formed in the large thunderstorm complex trailing the system south of Cuba. That circulation doesn’t appear to be at the surface of the ocean, however. Still, it’s likely an important factor in keeping Fred on a westward track over the Cuban landmass.

In the end, the details are unlikely to count. All that moisture is coming toward Florida. It might turn out that the mass of thunderstorms with that secondary circulation ends up being the source of the heaviest rain, and that will significantly lag the center we’ve been tracking.

Because of the slight chance that Fred could regenerate into a tropical storm in the vicinity of the Keys, the National Hurricane Center has continued the Tropical Storm Warning. It’s an alert that winds of 40 mph or higher could affect the Lower Keys if the system pulls itself together.

It looks more likely that the system will be past the Keys and into the Gulf before it will have any chance to reorganize.

In any case, a mass of moisture is coming north. If the track is anything like the forecast cone, that moisture will impact much of the Florida peninsula.

The wrinkle is that Fred’s center has stubbornly leaned to the left side of the cone. That might mean that the whole mess will track farther west than initially forecast, which in turn might pull the heaviest moisture away from southeast Florida a bit sooner than forecast. We’ll have to track it as it comes north.

Most importantly, don’t concentrate on the forecast icon or the cone. The worst weather is likely to be well outside the cone to the east, which means over the Florida peninsula.

Stay aware. Flood Watches are in effect.

Tropical Depression Fred advisory update. (WPLG)

Once the center or what’s left of Fred gets past the Keys, it will have an opportunity to regenerate over the warm waters of the Gulf, and under somewhat more conducive upper winds. It has the potential to turn into a healthy tropical storm as it’s approaching the Florida Panhandle on Monday.

Heavy rain and gusty winds are likely across the Panhandle no matter how the system develops. The difference will be the stronger winds near the center. It hard to say right now where a new center might develop. Stay informed.

The heavy rain will spread north into Georgia and the Carolinas as well.

Out in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression Seven has turn into Tropical Storm Grace, and it’s quickly approaching the northeastern Caribbean Islands. Watches and warnings are in effect for the islands in its path.

Grace is forecast to take a path very similar to Fred’s, so we’ll be talking about how the mountainous islands are likely to affect this one too, if the current track is correct.

Grace is a tiny storm, so the mountains would have a major effect on Grace’s circulation in a head-on crash. On the other hand, it wouldn’t have to be far off to completely miss. That makes the uncertainty in the long-range forecast high.

For now, because Grace is tentatively forecast to travel over the mountainous islands and the upper-level winds are forecast to become quite hostile, the early predictions are for it to be a relatively weak storm when it gets in vicinity of Florida at the end of the coming week. But a deviation one way or the other could make a big difference, do don’t focus on the details of the longer-range forecast at this point.

The bottom line is that we’re going to have another week of watching a tropical system coming in the general direction of Florida.

Tropical Storm Grace advisory information (WPLG)

About the Author:

Bryan Norcross is currently a hurricane specialist at Local 10 News, the station where he began his stretch on television in Miami in 1983.