Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, bringing heavy rainfall that could lead to dangerous flooding and the potential for mudslides, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm is expected to reach Florida by the end of the week.
The tropical storm was located about 75 miles west-northwest of Santo Domingo, with 40 mph winds, the hurricane center said Wednesday afternoon. The storm will bring rainfall to Florida and other parts of the southeast by Friday and will last into next week.
Fred is the sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Southeastern Bahamas, and the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo.
On Tuesday, the storm passed the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where many residents were left without power. Luma, the company operating Puerto Rico’s power transmission and distribution system, said most of the power was restored by Wednesday, but it was still working to restore power to the municipality of Adjuntas.
Florida is expected to see 3 to 5 inches of rainfall, which could cause flash flooding across the Keys and southern peninsula. Some isolated areas could see up to eight inches.
White House officials stressed the “most important” step to prepare is to get the COVID-19 vaccine “to ensure they will be protected” if they are forced to evacuate their homes. The Delta variant has caused COVID rates to spike across Florida. This month, the state recorded the highest daily case rate and current hospitalization rates since the height of the pandemic.