- Two of the three storms could hit the U.S. this week.
- Mid-Atlantic states could also see drenching rains.
- Texas could be a target of Grace on the Gulf Coast.
Tropical Storm Fred was gaining power Monday as it slammed across the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida, triggering tropical storm and storm surge warnings across the state’s Panhandle.
Fred was one of three storms swirling in the Atlantic Basin, at least two of which could hit the U.S. coast this week. Lining up behind Fred were Tropical Storm Grace, which was approaching the Dominican Republic and earthquake-battered Haiti early Monday, and tropical depression eight, which formed late Sunday near Bermuda.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted that storm would strengthen into Tropical Storm Henri sometime Monday, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for the island.
Fred takes aim at Florida, Alabama
Fred, driving sustained winds of 60 mph, was centered about 140 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida, early Monday. The storm was pushing north at about 9 mph and its blasting winds were reaching almost 115 miles from the storm’s center.
The hurricane center predicted Fred would gain speed and strength as it approaches the Panhandle and would make landfall in the western Florida Panhandle late Monday afternoon or early evening. Southern Alabama and parts of Georgia also is likely to be the target of some of the storm’s most serious damage.
Fred’s drenching rains could sweep into Mid-Atlantic states
The region could see up to 4-8 inches of rain with isolated maximum storm totals of 12 inches, the hurricane center warned. Southeast Alabama through western and northern Georgia and the western Carolinas could be drenched with 4-7 inches of rain with isolated maximum storm totals of 10 inches. Through Wednesday, portions of Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states will see 2 to 4 inches of rain with isolated maximum storm totals of 6 inches expected as Fred interacts with a nearby front, the center said.
The heavy rainfall could lead to flash, urban, small stream and isolated river flooding, the center said.
‘Life threatening’ storm surge possible
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the Panhandle’s coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline, the hurricane center warned. Storm surge could reach five feet in some areas.
“There is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland,” the center said.
Tropical Depression Grace closes in on Dominican Republic, Haiti
Grace was centered 160 miles east-southeast of Haiti, and moving west at 15 mph. Top winds were around 35 mph, just a few miles per hour short of tropical storm status, with little change in strength forecast during the next few days. Rain was falling in Puerto Rico early Monday as Grace pushed into the area.
Grace was forecast to move over Hispaniola later in the day, and the hurricane center predicted rainfall of up to 10 inches could cause flooding and possible mudslides for Haiti and the Dominican Republic through Tuesday. In Haiti, rocked by a massive earthquake Saturday that killed at least 1,300, first responders and volunteers scrambled to rescue survivors ahead of the coming storm.
Texas could be Grace’s US target
Grace is expected to emerge in the Gulf of Mexico later this week and the U.S. Gulf Coast could be a target. AccuWeather forecasters said they are monitoring the atmospheric conditions and how they could influence where Grace will track into the weekend. These factors include the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as winds at various levels in the atmosphere.
“Should no other weather systems in the southern United States steer Grace off-course, the tropical system may take aim at Texas,” AccuWeather said.
Tropical depression 8 develops near Bermuda
Tropical depression eight had maximum sustained winds around 35 mph and was located about 110 miles east of Bermuda. The storm was expected to make a “slow clockwise turn toward the west” over the next few days, forecasters said in an advisory. The center of the depression was forecast to move southeast and south of the island territory.
Though early in the storm’s development, forecasters said the storm might not reach the U.S. coast.