Aug. 13 (UPI) — Tropical Depression Fred moved along Cuba’s northern coastline Friday and was expected to strengthen back into a tropical storm later in the week.
In its 2 a.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the system had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph and was located 165 miles southeast of Southern Andros Island, Bahamas, and 410 miles east-southeast of Key West, Fla. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph, about half its speed from earlier in the day.
The storm brought tropical storm conditions to Dominican Republic and Haiti on Wednesday, but weakened to a tropical depression after passing over the island of Hispaniola. Forecasters said tropical storm conditions could be possible in the Bahamas and Cuba on Thursday.
The NHC said Florida could begin seeing impacts Friday night or Saturday morning, beginning with the Keys.
“On the forecast track, Fred is expected to move along or just north of eastern and central Cuba through tonight, be near the Florida Keys and southern Florida on Saturday and near the west coast of Florida on Sunday,” it said.
The storm was expected to strengthen back into a tropical storm by late Friday or early Saturday and potentially make landfall in Florida early Saturday.
“People need to remain vigilant about this system as it is likely to make a comeback prior to reaching the U.S. this weekend,” AccuWeather chief on-air meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, the southwest coast of the Florida Peninsula from Bonita Beach south and east to Ocean Reef, and the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin and Granma.
Fred follows five other named storms in the Atlantic basin so far this year — Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny and Elsa. Of those five, Elsa was the only one to gain hurricane strength.