Tropical Storm Warnings Issued for NW Florida as Fred Closes In

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Monday that Tropical Storm Fred had strengthened slightly on its approach toward the northwestern Florida panhandle region, where it was expected to bring heavy rains and a dangerous storm surge later in the day. In its latest forecast, the hurricane center said Fred is now about 145 kilometers from the coastal panhandle town of Apalachicola. The storm has maximum sustained winds of about 85 kilometers per hour and is expected to strengthen slightly before it comes ashore.  Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the region, and forecasters say some areas could see 10- to 20 centimeters of rain, as well as storm surges. Fred is expected to weaken and turn after it comes ashore and is likely to bring storms and heavy rains to the southeastern and mid-Atlantic sections of the eastern United States later in the week. Meanwhile, hurricane center forecasters continue to watch Tropical Depression Grace as it brings heavy rains to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Flash floods are possible in all those areas, with the highest potential in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which comprise the island of Hispaniola.  In Its latest advisory, forecasters say it is looking more likely that the weather system will track over only the southern portion of Hispaniola, sparing Haiti further hardship. The nation experienced a powerful earthquake Saturday just weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse left the nation in a political crisis. The current track of the system has it moving into the Gulf of Mexico where slow strengthening is expected in the next 24 to 48 hours.  

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