Tropical Depression Fred is pretty rough looking thanks to moving over the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola on Wednesday. Hurricane Hunters have investigated the system and found the center of circulation to be barely closed. It is barely a tropical depression and looks more like an open wave verses a tropical system.
Fred is now back over water between Cuba and the Bahamas. Most of the rain associated with the depression is displaced away from the center. Fred will be battling dry air, moderate wind shear and moving near land. Due to these features, the intensity will be low, and it is not expected to strengthen. There is a chance that it will dissipate or continue to weaken over the next 24 to 48 hours.
The depression is moving to the WNW and that motion is expected to continue for the next few days as it moves along the southern edge of a ridge of high pressure over the western Atlantic Ocean. On this track, Fred will move over the northern coast of Cuba, and into the SE Gulf of Mexico this weekend near Key West, FL. It will round the western edge of the high pressure this weekend, and that will cause it to turn northwest once in the Gulf. However, the forecast models are not in agreement as to when it will make the turn.
Once Fred moves into the Gulf of Mexico the wind shear will relax, and Fred will be sitting over warmer water. Some strengthening is then expected, but it will all depend on how close it is to the Florida Peninsula. There will also be an upper-level low north of the system, and this could cause Fred to not get as strong due to some additional wind shear.
Right now, there is A LOT of uncertainty in the forecast. Fred must survive its trek to the Gulf first. If it does, then it is possible a tropical storm could make landfall Monday morning on the Florida Panhandle. It is too soon to stay exactly where landfall could be located. IF Fred takes this path, Birmingham will not see too much rain from it since most of Alabama will be on the western side (drier side) of the storm. However, if it takes more of a western track and makes landfall near Mobile Bay, then we would see more rain and possibly tornadoes across central Alabama on Monday into Tuesday. Make sure you check back for updates.
A tropical wave (Invest 95L) is located 1500 hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles. It is producing some disorganized showers and thunderstorms. Some slow development of this system is possible over the next few days as it moves west across the central Atlantic. A tropical depression could form by early next week according to the forecast models. It will reach the Leeward Island this weekend. Forecast models take this system across the Caribbean in the next 5+ days. NHC is giving this system a medium chance to develop at this time.
Elsewhere…the rest of the tropics will be quiet for the next 5 days.