FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Tropical Storm Grace formed and strengthened in the Atlantic on Saturday morning as Fred turned into a tropical wave en route to the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Heavy rain and flooding were expected from both systems. Fred, who was once a tropical storm, could regain that strength on Sunday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The center said in its 11 a.m. EDT warning that Grace is about 265 miles (425 kilometers) east-southeast of the Leeward Islands and could reach the Lesser Antilles by Saturday evening. It was moving west at 37 km / h with maximum sustained winds of 75 km / h, up from 65 km / h earlier in the day.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic was on a tropical storm watch that, according to forecasters, could reach Grace by Monday.
Grace has been projected to bring three to four inches of rain to the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Monday. According to the latest forecast, Grace will approach South Florida as a tropical storm by mid-week.
Meanwhile, Fred has been downgraded to a tropical wave with peak winds around 35 mph (55 km / h). Forecasters said the system appeared “disorganized” and forecast it would pass west of the lower Florida Keys on Saturday afternoon and then advance into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters assume that it will intensify again on its way to a tropical storm on its way to the northern Gulf coast.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the state’s panhandle region. Fred is expected to bring heavy rain to the southeastern US through Monday. It is not expected to reach hurricane strength.
A tropical storm warning for the Florida Keys has been canceled. Fred was centered 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Havana and 125 miles (about 200 kilometers) southwest of Key West on Saturday morning, and it was moving at 12 mph from west to northwest.
Fred was once a tropical storm and turned into a depression as it spun over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it cut power to around 400,000 customers and caused flooding that forced officials to shut down part of the country’s aqueduct system, which is the water supply interrupted for hundreds by thousands of people. Local officials reported that hundreds of people were evacuated and some buildings were damaged.
Fred should bring 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 centimeters) of rain to the Keys and South Florida by Monday.
No evacuations are planned for tourists or residents of the Keys. The county’s emergency management officials advise people in campsites, RVs, caravans, RVs, and RVs to seek shelter in a safe structure during the storm.
In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey issued a statement Saturday saying her government is watching the storm and is “ready to act from the state level if necessary.”
Rodriguez reported from Havana.
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