Tropical Depression Fred continued to dump heavy rain in parts of Cuba on Friday as the “disorderly” storm surged toward its expected landing Saturday in the Florida Keys.
Meanwhile, another system in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression VII, was forecast to become Tropical Storm Grace on Saturday as it approaches the Caribbean Sea.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Florida Keys and Florida Bay as Fred approaches. The warning means that a tropical storm is expected somewhere within the warning zone within 36 hours.
“There’s a good chance two of them will make landfall in the US with Fred…most likely in the Florida Keys early Saturday and a second likely over northern Florida early next week,” Accuweather meteorologist Bernie Rhino said.
In addition to tropical storm warnings for the Florida Keys, tropical storm hours were in effect from Englewood to Ocean Reef, Florida, on the peninsula.
The National Hurricane Center said 3 to 7 inches of rain was expected across the Florida Keys and the southern peninsula by Monday, with a maximum of 10 inches. The National Weather Service in Miami has issued a flood watch for all of southern Florida due to the expected heavy rainfall.
The hurricane center warned “not to focus on a uniquely accurate forecast path as heavy rain, high winds, and the chance of hurricanes will extend far to the northeast and east from the center, and these risks are likely to continue to affect parts of the Florida peninsula.”
As of 11 p.m. EDT Friday, Fred was about 150 miles southeast of Key West with maximum winds of 35 mph. It was moving west at 12 mph.
Forecasters said Fred is expected to regain tropical storm strength in the warm Florida Strait early Saturday before hitting the Keys as a 40-mph tropical storm.
After a brief stint as a tropical storm earlier this week, Fred is back in the doldrums as he swirled over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, cutting power to nearly 400,000 customers and causing flooding that forced officials to shut down part of the country’s aqueduct system, cutting service water for hundreds of thousands of people.
Local officials said hundreds of people were evacuated and some buildings were damaged. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Fred became the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season late Tuesday as it overtook the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Behind Fred, the Hurricane Center said Tropical Depression Seven will become Tropical Storm Grace on Saturday. Tropical storm hours have been raised for some Leeward Islands.
The disturbance was about 540 miles east of the Lesser Antilles on Friday night and was moving west at 21 mph. The maximum wind speed was 35 miles per hour. It is expected to arrive in parts of the Leeward Islands later Saturday evening and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Sunday and Monday.
Contributing: Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post; Associated Press