Tropical Depression Fred is producing heavy rains over Cuba and the Florida Keys on Saturday as it continues to move toward the west-northwest.
In an early morning update on Facebook, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) wrote that the storm was centered approximately 25 miles west of Havana, Cuba and about 125 miles south-southwest of Key West, Florida.
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Fred was moving west-northwest at 13 mph and the motion was expected to continue throughout the day, though a turn to the northwest is projected by Saturday night.
The depression is forecast to pass west of the lower Florida Keys on Saturday afternoon and move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Saturday night before advancing northward on Sunday night and shifting inland over the northern Gulf Coast on Monday night.
Fred was recorded with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph with higher gusts and the NHC predicted continued slow strengthening.
The agency noted that Fred could become a tropical storm again on Saturday night or Sunday.
The Hurricane Center said that parts of Cuba could see 2 to 5 inches of rainfall from the storm, with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches and the potential for scattered flash flooding.
In the Bahamas, Fred was likely to produce 1 to 3 inches with isolated maximum totals of 5 inches.
Through Monday, 3 to 5 inches of rain with local amounts of 8 inches are anticipated across the Keys and southern Florida.
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The Hurricane Center said that the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend should see 3 to 7 inches with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches and cautioned that heavy rainfall could lead to new minor flooding across the western Florida Peninsula, worsen ongoing minor to isolated moderate flooding in northern Florida and result in areal, urban, and small stream flooding impacts.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Florida Keys west of the Seven Mile Bridge to the Dry Tortugas and the NHC said that tropical storm conditions are probable in the warning area.
A tornado or two could also be possible starting on Saturday afternoon over portions of central and southern Florida.
Those in impacted areas were advised to monitor Fred’s storm watches and the NHC said additional watches could be required for portions of the Florida panhandle and Alabama later on Saturday.
Fred formed south of Puerto Rico late Tuesday night – also impacting the U.S. Virgin Islands – and weakened from a tropical storm to a tropical depression force on Wednesday night as it swept over Haiti and the Dominican Republic through Thursday.
The storm knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of households in the Dominican Republic and around 13,000 in Puerto Rico.
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Dominican Republic officials were also forced to shut down part of the country’s aqueduct system, due to flooding from the storm.
Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season and the first in the month of August.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.