- Published Aug. 10, 2021Updated Aug. 11, 2021, 9:30 a.m. ET
Tropical Storm Fred moved closer to the capital of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, bringing with it the prospect of heavy rain before it sweeps toward Haiti, Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas.
In an 8 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said a tropical storm warning was in effect for parts of the south coast of the Dominican Republic and along its border with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. A tropical storm watch was in effect for parts of Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, where rainfall forecasts were slightly lower.
A tropical storm warning has been lifted for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which had been swept by rain and wind since Tuesday as the storm moved northwest toward the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane center warned of up to four inches of rain in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and said some areas could see up to six inches, leading to flash flooding.
The storm, which formed late Tuesday night as the sixth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, was about 50 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, on Wednesday morning, the hurricane center said. Maximum sustained wind speeds were about 40 miles per hour.
The center of the storm is expected to be near or over Hispaniola on Wednesday, before moving to the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday, and then the northern coast of central Cuba on Friday.
It will then head northwest into the Gulf of Mexico, near Florida, according to a hurricane center forecast. Wind and rain could threaten Florida by Friday, but forecast details were still unclear, the hurricane center said.
Hurricane season is well underway; the fifth named storm, Elsa, hit Florida and caused flooding into the Northeast in early July.
Where do they come from? ⃗⃗⃗ ⃗⃗⃗→
The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to experience stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.
A major United Nations climate report released Monday warned that nations had delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they could no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, leading to more frequent life-threatening heat waves and severe droughts. Tropical cyclones have most likely become more intense over the past 40 years, the report said, a shift that cannot be explained by natural variability alone.
Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.
The most recent named storm in the Atlantic was Hurricane Elsa, in early July. Elsa cut through Cuba and then Florida, eventually making its way into New York City, where heavy rainfall from the storm flooded subway stations and roadways.
In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic. Last week, in a midseason update to the forecast, they continued to warn that this year’s hurricane season would be an above average one, suggesting a busy end to the season.
Matthew Rosencrans, of NOAA, said that an updated forecast suggested that there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30.
Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.
It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.
Jesus Jiménez and Christine Hauser contributed reporting.