PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Fred is expected to gain strength back to a tropical storm by Saturday. The storm will have to deal with wind shear and a less than ideal environment for a tropical system. The wind shear should keep the intensity down from gaining strength above a tropical storm. There is the off-chance the storm could really fight off the shear it could make it to a Category 1 hurricane. This scenario does not look probable but is not impossible.
The forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is for the storm to move into the Panhandle Sunday night and Monday morning as a 40-50 mph Tropical Storm. The biggest impacts could be isolated flooding and poor beach conditions where rip currents would be common for a few days.
Rainfall should be in the 1 to 4 inches range across the area. A few locations could see heavier amounts where rain bands set up and linger. Isolated flash flooding and some river flooding will be possible.
The rainfall totals will largely depend on the final track of the system. A stronger system farther to the west will bring more rain, and a system farther to the east will bring less rain.
Wind speeds and gust again will be track-dependent. The east side of the circulation will bring the greatest winds. As it stands now, with a shift to the west, gusts across the Panhandle could range from 25-45 mph. The east side of the storm would see the higher range of wind gusts, up to 55 mph. Any shifts in the size or strength of the storm could also increase the effects on the area.
For now, Fred is expected to remain a weak system as it slowly strengthens and moves to our area. The impacts are expected to be minor, but we are still several days out and the tropics can and do change quickly. Make sure to keep up with the latest updates and have your tropical weather plans/preparations made.