At a Glance
A disturbance in the eastern Caribbean is likely to become a tropical storm on Tuesday.
It will bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Caribbean, regardless of development.
It’s uncertain what, if any, impacts this system might bring to Florida beginning this weekend.
A disturbance in the eastern Caribbean Sea is likely to soon become Tropical Storm Fred as it brings heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of the Caribbean Islands over the next few days. Beyond the Caribbean, it’s uncertain what, if any, impacts this system might bring to Florida during the weekend ahead.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has designated a low-pressure system spreading showers and thunderstorms into the eastern Caribbean Sea as “Potential Tropical Cyclone Six”.
This “potential tropical cyclone” procedure allows the NHC to issue watches and warnings ahead of time for a system that hasn’t become well organized enough to be deemed a tropical depression or storm, but is forecast to become one.
Tropical storm watches and warnings have been issued from parts of the Lesser Antilles to the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. This includes a tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where tropical storm conditions (winds of at least 39 mph) are expected to begin later Tuesday.
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands could also see 2 to 4 inches of rainfall from this system, which has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch for those areas until Wednesday evening.
Uncertain Forecast From the Caribbean to Florida
The official forecast from the NHC below shows that this system is likely to develop into Tropical Storm Fred on Tuesday as it moves generally toward the west-northwest.
Relatively low wind shear and warm water favor some short-term intensification, but dry air lurking nearby should prevent it from strengthening quickly.
At least some weakening of the system to a tropical depression is forecast once it moves over the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola on Wednesday. There is even the possibility that the system could dissipate for a time.
By late week, future Fred or its remnants could be located near Cuba and the southeast Bahamas, where some reorganization of the system might begin. However, that will depend on how much wind shear this system encounters as it moves north and whether it tracks over water instead of Cuba.
The official NHC forecast shows some intensification of the system once it reaches the waters south of Florida by this weekend. But this forecast is highly subject to change given all of the wind shear, dry air and land interaction obstacles we’ve described above.
Regardless, it appears at least a surge of moisture will arrive in Florida this weekend, wringing out more frequent, concentrated areas of heavier rain than your more typical afternoon thunderstorms provide.
It’s too early to determine what, if any, other impacts there might be in Florida this weekend.
For now, interests from the Caribbean to the Bahamas and Florida should monitor its progress over the coming days. Now is a good time to refresh or develop your hurricane season plans.