A tropical storm watch was issued for the Florida Keys and southwest Florida as Tropical Depression Fred continued moving through the waters of the Caribbean north of Cuba Thursday.
The main threat to the U.S. appeared to be heavy rains affecting Florida and parts of the Southeast starting on Friday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Fred had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph as it moved west-northwest at 9 mph about 450 miles east-southeast of Key West, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The tropical storm watch was in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, and for the southwest coast of the Florida Peninsula from Bonita Beach south and east to Ocean Reef, including Florida Bay.
A tropical storm watch was already in effect for the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, and Granma.
Some 300,000 customers were without power in the Dominican Republic and more than a half-million were affected by swollen rivers that forced part of the aqueduct system to shut down, government officials reported.
Fred became the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season late Tuesday as it moved past the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on a forecast track that would carry it toward Florida over the weekend.
Forecasters said Fred was expected to become a tropical storm again Thursday as it moved near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas and then pass north of the northern coast of central Cuba on Friday.
Much of Florida and the Florida Keys remained in the system's cone of concern. South Florida should continue to monitor the forecast for any anticipated impacts Friday night through Sunday.
Beginning Friday into next week, heavy rainfall associated with Fred will impact Florida and parts of the Southeast. Through Monday, 3 to 5 inches of rain is anticipated across the Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula, with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches.