HAVANA — Tropical Storm Grace formed Saturday morning in the Atlantic Ocean, while Fred remained a tropical depression headed into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Both systems were expected to bring heavy rain and flooding. Fred, which has already been classified as a tropical storm before, could regain such strength later in the day or on Sunday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Grace was centered about 420 miles east of the Leeward Islands and could reach the Lesser Antilles by Saturday night. It was moving west at 22 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the British Virgin Islands. Forecasters said Grace could reach the Dominican Republic by Monday.

Grace was forecast to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico into Monday.

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows a Tropical Storm Fred in the Caribbean as it passes south of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic at 8am EST, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.
Fred is now a tropical depression after being labelled a storm earlier on.

Meanwhile, Fred remained a tropical depression with top winds around 35 mph. Forecasters said the system appeared “disorganized,” and projecting that it would pass west of the lower Florida Keys on Saturday afternoon and then move into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for the Florida Keys west of the Seven Mile Bridge to the Dry Tortugas. Fred was centered Saturday morning 90 miles south of Key West, and it was moving west-northwest at 13 mph.

Once a tropical storm, Fred weakened to a depression by its spin over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it knocked out power to some 400,000 customers and caused flooding that forced officials to shut down part of the country’s aqueduct system, interrupting water service for hundreds of thousands of people. Local officials reported hundreds of people were evacuated and some buildings were damaged.

City workers fill sandbags at a drive-thru sandbag distribution event for residents ahead of the arrival of rains associated with tropical depression Fred
Fred has seen top winds around 35 mph.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Fred was expected to bring 3 to 5 inches of rain to the Keys and southern Florida through Monday.

No evacuations are planned for tourists or residents in Monroe County, Keys officials said Friday. The county’s emergency management officials are advising people in campgrounds, recreational vehicles, travel trailers, live-aboard vessels and mobile homes to seek shelter in a safe structure during the weather event.

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