Recently upgraded Tropical Storm Fred is headed towards the Panhandle and is expected to bring heavy rainfall and a dangerous storm surge across the state’s coast.
Regaining its tropical storm status as it gathered strength moving through the Gulf of Mexico, Fred continues to bear down on Florida’s Panhandle and Big Bend area. As of 9 a.m., the system was about 80 miles south of Panama City. Fred had maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and was moving north at 10 miles per hour.
The Florida Panhandle is expected to receive 4″ to 8″ of rain, while a storm surge could run as high as 3 to 5 feet.
Tropical Storm Fred is forecast to gradually strengthen until it makes landfall near the western Florida panhandle Monday afternoon or evening. A Category 1 hurricane intensity is not out of the question, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
With Fred slowly approaching, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis urged Floridians to take heed as the storm makes landfall.
Signficant rainfall and severe storm surge from Tropical Storm #Fred is predicted in parts of the #FLA Panhandle & Big Bend today. Please take this storm seriously. Follow weather reports for the most up-to-date information about the storm. https://t.co/bPwZvY1zYi
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) August 16, 2021
Tropical Storm Fred is just one of three Atlantic storms being monitored by NHC. Tropical Storm Grace was tracking through the Caribbean at 160 miles east-southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moving west at 15 mph. The hurricane center noted that it had top winds of around 35 mph, and forecasted rainfall between 5 inches and 10 inches that could cause flash flooding and possible mudslides for Haiti and the Dominican Republic through Tuesday. NHC also issued an advisory for Tropical Depression Eight, which officially formed 135 miles east-northeast of Bermuda Sunday night. Forecasters say the system will strengthen to Tropical Storm Henri by Monday.
840 AM CDT: Tropical Storm Warnings with #Fred have been extended eastward along the Florida Big Bend Coast all the way to Steinhatchee River. This extension is due to Tropical Storm force winds extending now 115 miles east of Fred's center.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 16, 2021
This is an ongoing story. Check back for updates.