Tracking the Tropics: Fred remains disorganized heading into Gulf while Tropical Storm Grace sets eyes on Caribbean

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hurricane season is heating up with two storms tracking toward the United States. Tropical Depression Fred remains poorly put together Saturday morning while newly formed Tropical Storm Grace is just getting organized.

TROPICAL DEPRESSION FRED

Tropical Depression Fred has spent the last 24 hours over Cuba and has weakened considerably due to the land interaction and continued strong upper level winds. The National Hurricane Center mentioned it is hard to tell if Fred is even a depression anymore because it may not have a closed low level center of circulation.

While Fred remains in bad shape as of Saturday morning, forecast models still suggest it will re-gain the low level circulation just north of Cuba. This would allow further re-organization over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters as it moves northwest toward the United States.

While Fred remains in bad shape as of Saturday morning, forecast models still suggest it will re-gain the low level circulation just north of Cuba. This would allow further re-organization over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters as it moves northwest toward the United States.

While the upper levels winds are forecast to weaken a bit, they are not forecast to be very low which would slow any strengthening Fred may do in the Gulf. The National Hurricane Center forecast calls for Fred to be a mid-grade to strong tropical storm with winds of 60 mph approaching the northern Gulf Coast Monday.

West Coast of Florida

The current forecast track keeps Fred well away from the west coast of Florida, however impacts are still possible with Fred being asymmetric and unorganized. Most of the deeper tropical moisture and shower and thunderstorm activity associated with Fred will be on the eastern side, putting it closer to Florida’s peninsula.

There will be a good coverage of storms both Saturday and Sunday in the Tampa Bay area due to the extra tropical moisture in place combined with the normal summer daytime heating. Localized flooding will the main hazard with Fred along the peninsula. Especially along coastal spots where up to five inches of rainfall has fallen over the past 4 days leading to saturated grounds. River flooding is possible along with standing water in diches and on roads.

There will also be a low tornado threat Saturday night into Sunday with quick spin up weak tornadoes possible.

Florida Panhandle

The panhandle of Florida will experience more impacts from Fred. The threat from storm surge will be low to the east of where the center comes ashore. The storm will not be large or strong enough to push large amounts of water onto the coastline. Freshwater flooding could be an issue in spots that have seen a significant amount of rain in the past few days.

The bulk of the heavy rain and gustiest winds will be on the eastern side as well. Rain bands will begin to move onshore to parts of the panhandle Monday morning with winds increasing throughout the day. Wind gusts upwards of 40-60 mph are possible in the strongest bands as Fred moves ashore.

Fred Moves Inland

Fred will quickly weaken as it moves inland but the tropical moisture will continue to surge northward bringing heavy rain to parts of the Tennessee River Valley thorough the middle of next week.

TROPICAL STORM GRACE

Tropical Storm Grace formed around 5am Saturday morning from Tropical Depression Seven. Grace remains small but got a little better organized overnight. Maximum sustained winds are about 40 mph and it is racing off to the west at 22 mph. It is currently located about 350 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands.

Grace will slow its forward speed as it continues west, likely moving over the Lesser Antilles tonight. It is then forecast to move near or over the rest of the Caribbean Islands, including mountainous Hispaniola. While some strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, interaction with land and strong upper levels winds will begin to weaken Grace early next week.

Through the middle of next week, the Bermuda high pressure will steer Grace WNW but the long term forecast is uncertain. It is too soon to say if the United States will feel impacts from Grace.

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