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A Tropical Storm Is On Track To Sweep The U.S. Gulf Coast This Weekend

National Hurricane Center

Updated August 12, 2021 at 9:25 PM ET

Tropical Depression Fred, currently off the coast of Cuba, is forecast to regain tropical storm status slowly before bringing strong winds and potentially heavy rainfall to Florida this weekend.

Fred is expected to move through the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday, pass over central Cuba on Friday and make landfall as a tropical storm in the vicinity of the Florida Keys by Saturday. Another landfall is likely in Florida's Big Bend region, south of Tallahassee, or the Panhandle over the weekend or early next week, forecasters say.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Fred will bring tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 mph to the Keys by Friday evening. Wind gusts as high as 60 mph are possible.

"Keep in mind that Fred's forecast is highly subject to change given all of the wind shear, dry air and land interaction obstacles," the Weather Channel says.

At 8 p.m. ET Thursday, the center of Fred was about 240 miles southeast of South Andros Island, Bahamas, and the storm was moving west-northwest, having slowed to about 7 mph.

"There's still uncertainty over Fred's precise track and intensity," the Miami Herald reported. "What forecasters do know is that Florida should brace for heavy rain and possible flooding, including along the east coast."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.