August 12, 2021

Tropical Depression Fred Barely Hanging On As It Putters Toward Florida

Tropical Depression Fred barely counts as a tropical cyclone this afternoon as it putters along north of the Greater Antilles. Tropical storm watches are in effect for portions of southern Florida in case the storm manages to recombobulate and pick up steam again heading into the weekend.

We've spent more than a week tracking the disturbance that would ultimately become Tropical Storm Fred.

After spending a few days as a "potential tropical cyclone," a bureaucratic title that lets the National Hurricane Center issue watches and warnings before a storm officially forms, the disturbance organized into Fred on Tuesday night as it passed south of Puerto Rico.

The storm isn't much to look at on satellite today.
Source: NOAA
Fred's struggles started with the mountains of Hispaniola and continued when westerly wind shear began chipping away at the storm's structure. There isn't much there there anymore, aside from a vague low-level circulation and a little bit of thunderstorm activity near the center of the storm.

It's ugly. That's not a bad thing, of course. An ugly storm means it's not strengthening, and after last year, I'm here for any storms that don't jump from 30 to 160 in a day.

Even though it's ugly now, the National Hurricane Center's 5:00 p.m. forecast shows the system regaining tropical storm strength this weekend as it hugs Florida's Gulf coast, eventually making landfall on the Florida Panhandle by Sunday or Monday.

There's a chance that the system (or its remnants) could bring some decent rainfall totals to Florida and the parts of the southeastern United States over the next week or so. A slight risk for flash flooding exists in southern Florida through Saturday as the system moves through the area. 

The Weather Prediction Center's latest forecast shows the potential for 3-5+ inches of rain across the southeast, with the greatest totals possible along and east of Fred's track.

Much of this is highly dependent on what actually happens with this storm and its remnants, so the heavy rain/flood threat is worth keeping in the back of your mind so you know to watch the radar and warnings as we head into the weekend.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.