Tropical Depression Fred had not returned to tropical storm status as of Friday evening, but there was still a possibility it would strengthen Friday night or today.
“Overall, there hasn’t been a whole lot of change,” said Eric Oglesby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Tampa based in Ruskin.
The National Weather Service Tampa expects 3-6 inches of rain around Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties with higher isolated totals in some locations.
This rain on top of the recent rain storms in the area has the potential to cause flooding.
“That is going to be the major impact,” Oglesby said.
While coastal Charlotte and Lee counties were under a tropical storm watch all day Friday, the National Weather Service was considering expanding the watch north toward Tampa as the storm moved away from Cuba Friday afternoon.
The National Weather Service Tampa stated there are tornado possibilities for the area starting today and going into Sunday.
Oglesby said the other significant impact for the area would be tides of 1-3 feet above normal.
The Daily Sun expects its print edition to be late to customers Sunday due to weather conditions of the storm. All stories on www.yoursun.com will be free to access from noon Saturday through Monday afternoon to keep the community informed on the storm and any local situations.
Charlotte County Emergency Management officials were expecting to spend part of Saturday night at the Emergency Operations Center on Airport Road as Tropical Storm Fred passes by in the Gulf of Mexico.
The county continues to expect minimal flooding and minimal winds, Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller said Friday afternoon, but staff was still preparing for worse.
“It’s not a very big storm,” Fuller said, but the rain and wind are on its east side, or the side near the coast of Florida.
Flooding is a possibility, Fuller said, because the ground is more saturated now than it was when Hurricane Elsa hit in early July.
The county’s Public Works staff will be on the lookout for flooding, Fuller said.
“They know their trouble spots. They’ve got crews standing by.”
The storm appears to be heading farther out in the Gulf than Elsa, which dumped rain on Southwest Florida July 7-8. Fred is expected to hit land somewhere along the Florida Panhandle, Fuller said.
As with Elsa, high winds are expected to affect the outer barrier islands of Charlotte County more than landward, Fuller said. But storm bands can hit in other areas of the county.
The timing of the storm’s worst effects for our area is most likely tonight, Fuller said.
Charlotte County is barely in the cone of probability for the storm, he said, but it is a possibility.
“There’s always a concern for intensification of a storm, especially over the Gulf of Mexico and warm water,” he said, but the storm is not expected to become a hurricane.
Charlotte County does not tend to get the delayed flooding that hit a part of North Port after Elsa, Fuller said. There, water flowed into tributaries of the Myakka River and built up before flooding some of the neighborhoods.
For their part, North Port city employees continued monitoring Tropical Depression Fred, spokesperson Josh Taylor said.
“We’re meeting as a staff, working with Sarasota County (Emergency Operation Center administrators) and our Public Works division is making any needed preparations for water flow,” he said.
In preparation for the storm, Punta Gorda offered sandbags at the Hounds on Henry dog park.
The Sarasota County sandbag station in Venice gave out 310 bags of sand as of early Friday afternoon.
“We need to be prepared for anything this time of year,” Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said in a video. “We at the EOC are going to be monitoring those storms and the public needs to do the same thing.”
The Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce canceled its weekly downtown farmers market in anticipation of bad weather.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District closed all its district-managed campgrounds and walking trails.
The Daily Sun and Venice Gondolier will be updating tropical storm stories online for free throughout the weekend at www.yoursun.com.