A disturbance in the Caribbean Sea is forecast to turn into Tropical Storm Fred soon, possibly by the time it nears Puerto Rico Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
An NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the disturbance Tuesday morning to determine the system’s intensity. The system has a 90% chance of becoming Tropical Storm Fred, though its strength is forecast to fluctuate in the next several days.
On the forecast track, the system could be a tropical storm by the time it passes near or over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Tuesday, August 10th, and will be near or over Hispaniola’s mountainous land on Wednesday, where it could see some weakening.
The system still doesn’t have a clearly defined center, which helps models track storms more accurately. But forecasters noted that “conditions appear to be conducive for intensification during the next 24 hours or so” thanks to low wind shear and strong outflow over the system.
The hurricane center predicts the system will weaken into a tropical depression again by the time it nears the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Forecasters expect it to strengthen into a tropical storm again once it nears Cuba and Florida later this week. The hurricane center now predicts that the storm’s maximum sustained winds could top out near 60 mph at that point.
Most of Florida is in the cone. However, forecasters note that it’s still too soon to say if Florida will be affected because of the long-range forecast’s uncertainty.
South Florida could see “significant, widespread flooding” this weekend, said chief meteorologist Craig Setzer of Miami Herald news partner CBS4.
“A slow-moving tropical storm, passing just south & west of South Florida could bring periods of torrential rainfall depending on storm’s eventual path,” Setzer wrote on Twitter.
He said South Florida will have a better idea of what to expect on Thursday when forecasters can gauge how Hispaniola’s mountainous terrain affected the system. He recommends people start thinking about possible storm preparations for the weekend.