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PANAMA CITY, Florida (WMBB) – Tropical Storm Fred formed in the Caribbean Sea late Tuesday night and continues to move to the west/northwest. As of Wednesday morning, Fred was located just southeast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 40 mph. It is forecast to travel through the Caribbean over the next few days before attempting a path in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, potentially impacting parts of the Panhandle.
The tropical system is forecast to continue its west/northwest track over the Caribbean through the end of the work week. Interaction with land, dry air and shear will likely keep the system weak. The intensity forecast is very dependent on all of the variables mentioned therefore if any aspect of the environment ends up being more favorable then we could see a stronger storm develop.
By the weekend, the system may track into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s at this point when the forecast cone becomes broad, as potential paths for the extended forecast are a bit up in the air.
As Tropical Storm Fred moves over the island of Hispaniola, the interaction with land will likely be a big disruption to the tropical system’s structure. Whatever is left of the storm on the other side is yet to be seen, but forecast models are indicating that Fred may be weaker after passing through the mountainous terrain.
After passing the island, whatever is left of Fred will have more shear to deal with but less dry air. There will also be an upper-level low to help spread outflow as well. This should allow for the low-level center to get its act together and potentially re-strengthen to a tropical storm. This will also help push the storm to the east or pull the system to the west depending on the size and strength of the system this weekend. By Thursday and Friday, we will have a better idea as to how Fred will interact with said upper level low and the atmospheric environment in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Now is the time to watch closely but not to panic. Plan to go through the thought process of what you will want to do if a storm is to materialize. It is important to set multiple plans based on your tolerance and expected impacts. Check your hurricane kit and make sure it’s ready to use as well. These are all precautions that will help ease your mind if a system comes along where you need to act immediately. Make sure to check back to this page for updates, and join us Thursday for our Tropic Topics digital show on our website and Facebook as we break down this tropical system further.