Tropical Storm Fred made landfall near Cape San Blas shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, bringing heavy rainfall and leading to power outages across the Panhandle.
Regaining its tropical storm status as it gathered strength moving through the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, much of Florida’s Panhandle and Big Bend area took a direct hit from Fred. At the time of writing, the tropical storm has sustained winds of 65 mph that extended 115 miles from the center. The storm sits a few miles southwest of Apalachicola and traveling north-northeast at 9 mph.
Tracking the storm, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted that the system’s winds were gusting well above tropical storm status and that the storm — while it will continue to weaken — could cause flooding and a ‘life-threatening’ storm surge across the state’s coast. Storm surge warnings continue for the Big Bend region of Florida with forecast storm surge as high as 3 to 5 feet through the evening hours. The Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia and Alabama remain under a tornado watch until 8 p.m.
“On the forecast track, the center of Fred should make landfall in the eastern Florida Panhandle this afternoon or early this evening, and move over western Georgia on Tuesday,” NHC said. “Little change in strength is expected before landfall. After landfall, Fred is expected to quickly weaken.”
With Tropical Storm Fred bearing down on the Panhandle, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis provided important information and resources for those who have coverage through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“Tropical Storm Fred is expected to bring heavy rainfall and possible storm surge and flooding along portions of the coast of the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend region and it’s vital that residents know who to turn to after the rain ends and the rebuilding begins,” Patronis said on Monday. ” After you’ve ensured it’s safe to reenter your home and property, document damage and call your insurance company to file a claim immediately. If homeowners are experiencing insurance related issues, call my insurance consumer helpline toll-free for assistance at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) or get assistance online at MyFloridaCFO.com.”
Tropical Storm Fred is just one of three Atlantic storms being monitored by NHC. Tropical Storm Grace was tracking through the Caribbean, centered 70 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, moving west-northwest at 12 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.
215 PM CDT 16 August — National Weather Service WSR-88D radar data indicates that Tropical Storm #Fred has made landfall near Cape San Blas, Florida.
Fred’s maximum sustained winds at landfall are estimated to be 65 MPH.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 16, 2021