Evening for Erika; Fred Forms in Far-Eastern Atlantic

Mountains of Hispaniola Put the Final Nail in Erika’s Coffin; Fred Forms in Rare Spot

The Atlantic Basin is making up for some lost time.  After being mostly dormant for the first 60 percent of August 2015, the region has perked up with three named systems in the last 12 days.  One of those storms, Erika, which had been erratic, and struggling to get its act together, finally fell apart on Saturday after being torn up into a trough of low pressure by the rugged terrain of Hispaniola.  Meanwhile, a new storm has emerged in the Far Eastern Atlantic.

Erika finally gave way to the mountains of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Odds were already stacked against the storm, which still managed to get further along in the Atlantic than Danny did despite being erratic, and unable to get its act together.  Prior to its demise, the air was already going out of the balloon for Erika.  Early Saturday morning, the government of the Dominican Republic had discontinued its Tropical Storm Warning.  Less than 3 hours later, the storm showed signs of dissipating at Hurricane Hunter aircraft went in to investigate.  By 9:30 AM EDT Saturday morning, Erika had officially dissipated.

Despite falling apart, Erika could still pack a punch for Florida.  The storm’s remnants are still expected to bring significant rainfall along with winds up to tropical storm force to much of the Sunshine State.  Much of South Florida has been fairly dry recently, but West Florida including the Tampa Bay area has had too much rain.  Rainfall amounts between 3 to 5 inches with locally higher amounts are expected across Central and South Florida starting on Sunday.  The Atlantic isn’t done yet though.  A new storm has emerged in Erika’s wake.

Just hours after the demise of Erika, and not too long after departing the West Coast of Africa, the tropical disturbance that had been labeled as Invest 99L by the National Hurricane Center, was reclassified as Tropical Storm Fred, the sixth named storm of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season.  Fred has already made quite a name for himself.   NHC Hurricane Specialist, Eric Blake noted on late Saturday morning that what had been Invest 99L was unique in that was already quite organized right on the African coast.  Forming in the wee hours of Sunday morning as a depression, Fred then became only the fourth named storm on record to form east of 19W longitude.

As of the most recent advisory by the National Hurricane Center at 8:00 AM AST, or EDT, Tropical Storm Fred was located some 315 miles to the East-Southeasts of Praia in the Cape Verde Islands, which is already under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch.  Seeing those watches and warnings that far east in a season that has been mostly quiet, is quite remarkable.  Fred is only a minimal tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour with estimated gusts up to 50 miles per hour.  Wind speeds and gusts are estimates based upon satellite imagery interpretation.  Minimum central pressure is estimated to be 1005 millibars, or 29.68 inches of Hg.

Fred is currently moving at a nice and easy pace to the West-Northwest at 12 miles per hour.  The forecast track shows the storm continuing on this pace through Tuesday.  Tropical Storm Fred is expected to move through the Cape Verde Islands sometime late Monday night, and into Tuesday.   The two impacts from Fred will be wind and rainfall.  Tropical storm force winds are expected to begin arriving in the Cape Verde Islands by early Monday.  Hurricane force winds are also possible through Tuesday.  Rainfall amounts are forecast to be anywhere between 3 to 5 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 8 inches.

Looking at the most recent Tropical Weather Discussion on Fred from the NHC, the storm is expected to gradually strengthen over the next 36 hours to be a very strong tropical storm, and on the cusp of being a minimal hurricane with 70 mph winds.  This is due to the favorable environment including light upper level winds, an abundance of tropical moisture, and sea surface temperatures between 81.5 and 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit that will be in the area of Fred.  The storm is expected to level off at that point for the next 36 hours before weakening slightly.  Within five days, the NHC believes Fred will still have 60 mile per hour winds.  

Still plenty of time to watch Tropical Storm Fred unless you are in the Cape Verde Islands, which should begin making the necessary preparations.