Tropics latest: Fred forecasted to restrengthen into tropical storm by Friday

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As of the 11 p.m. Thursday update from the National Hurricane Center, Fred is a tropical depression with 35 mph max sustained winds, moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph. It is set to closely track along Cuba’s northern coastline over the next two days.

A Tropical Storm Watch was issued for all of coastal Collier County.



Southwest Florida remains in the forecast cone for Fred.

There is a chance for strengthening as it moves over the abnormally warm waters of the Florida Straits between Cuba and Florida.

From there, the current forecast from the NHC has Fred moving just north of Cuba Thursday before moving into the Florida Straits late Friday, then making a turn to the north, where it is set to remain just offshore of Southwest Florida as it continues its track northward towards the Panhandle. The current track has this system making landfall near Panama City Sunday night into early Monday morning.


Right now, as we’ve seen in the past with systems like Elsa, just about a month ago, the forecast is sensitive to its interactions with landmasses in its way. The largest variable in the forecast will be Cuba’s impact on Fred.

The high elevations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti weakened the storm significantly as it passed over Hispaniola. We could see a similar weakening of the storm if it interacts heavily with Cuba. Additional obstacles include dry air and even some wind shear. 

Before we nail down those finer details, it is too soon to determine specifics of how much rain, how strong of winds, and if we will see any storm surge here in Southwest Florida.

Right now, we can at least bet on an increased chance of rain for the weekend. The best thing to do is continue to monitor the situation and stay tuned for more updates coming out throughout the day on WINK News.

In the eastern Atlantic, we are also keeping an eye on a tropical wave moving westward with a 70% chance of development over the next five days.

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