FIRST ALERT: Fred barely hanging on, Grace may develop this weekend
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Fred remains a very weak and disorganized tropical depression while a system in the Atlantic is getting better organized.
A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, and for the southwest coast of the Florida Peninsula from Bonita Beach south and east to Ocean Reef, including Florida Bay.
At 5:00 PM, the center of Tropical Depression Fred was located near latitude 21.3 North, longitude 75.3 West. The depression is moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue through Friday. A turn toward the northwest is expected Friday night or Saturday. On the forecast track, Fred is expected to move along or just north of eastern and central Cuba tonight and Friday, and be near the Florida Keys and southern Florida on Saturday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph with higher gusts, mainly in squalls to the northeast of the center. Little change in strength is expected through tonight. Slow strengthening is expected Friday through Saturday, and Fred is forecast to regain tropical storm strength as it nears the Florida Keys and south Florida. The estimated minimum central pressure is 1012 mb (29.89 inches).
Once it moves inland early next week, the remnants of Fred will likely spread rain and tropical moisture across much of the Deep South and the Carolinas. The heaviest rain looks to remain across Georgia and the western portions of the Carolinas. Locally, an increase in daily showers and storms is likely, but widespread heavy rain is not expected.
Satellite data indicates that a small area of low pressure has developed along a tropical wave about 1200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. However, the low does not quite have a closed circulation, and the associated shower and thunderstorm activity remains disorganized.
Environmental conditions are expected to become more conducive for additional development, and a tropical depression is likely to form by the weekend while moving generally westward at about 20 mph across the tropical Atlantic. This system is expected to reach portions of the Leeward Islands late Saturday or early Sunday, and interests there should monitor its progress. The Chance of development has increased to 70% over the next 5 days.
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