PANAMA CITY, Florida (WMBB). – After passing through Hispaniola yesterday, Tropical Storm Fred has weakened to a tropical depression (as of Thursday morning). The mountainous terrain ripped it apart, leaving behind a messy tropical system lacking a low-level center. Due to the disorganization of the tropical system, it will likely take a while for the storm to re-strengthen to tropical storm status.
Model trends have indicated a weaker storm, which is what we want. However, with a weaker storm, models do not do the best job picking up where the low-level center will be. This is still a big question in the forecast path and potential strength over the next few days.
Right now, it appears the mid-level center should move to the west/northwest through Saturday. As the storm redevelops, it will be prone to shear interaction that should keep it weak. It will also start to latch onto the high-pressure system in the Atlantic that will eventually curve the storm to the north. Impacts from the system will be mostly on the east side as westerly shear will make the system lopsided. Much like what we had with Elsa, areas west of the center will see little impact if any.
Over the next 24 hours, we should get a much better look at the outcome of this storm and where it is headed as well as details of what we could see here in the Panhandle. As of now, the system is expected to be weak and lopsided; though the tropics can and do change quickly. If the storm shifts west, we’ll see more of an impact. If it shifts east, we’ll see less. Regardless of its path, though, this looks to be a weaker tropical system and it is not likely to cause significant damage to north Florida.
Today at 1 p.m. CT, the First Alert Storm Team will be digging deeper into the atmospheric set up of this tropical system, what conditions it will be moving into, how and why the path may shift and which impacts may be seen across the Panhandle. Join us for our Tropic Topics discussion streaming live here on mypanhandle.com or on Facebook.