Earlier a tropical depression, Grace strengthened to tropical storm status about 400 miles east of the Leeward Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding, and even prompted a tropical storm warning for parts of the eastern Caribbean, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Maximum sustained winds are roughly 45 mph, with some strengthening expected during the next couple of days.
On the current forecast track, the center of Grace is expected to move over the Leeward Islands Saturday night, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Sunday and the Dominican Republic on Monday. Weakening is expected early next week as the system interacts with the Greater Antilles.
The US Coast Guard set port condition Yankee for ports in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands on Saturday morning, meaning gale-force winds are expected within 24 hours.
The ports are closed to all incoming commercial traffic, the Coast Guard said in a release.
“Pleasure craft owners are advised to seek safe harbor and pay close attention to any changes in weather forecasts and small craft advisories throughout the weekend,” the release said.
The Coast Guard also advised people to stay away from beaches and to be prepared to leave the area.
Tropical Depression Fred degenerated into a tropical wave late Saturday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. All warnings were discontinued.
The remnants of Fred are currently located around 50 miles from Havana. It had drenched the island country with rainfall earlier on Saturday.
Despite weakening, conditions are favorable for some re-development and Fred is forecast to become a tropical storm again on Sunday.
Landfall along the northern Gulf Coast is expected Monday evening as a tropical storm.
A State of Emergency was issued Friday for 23 counties in Florida, including Bay, Calhoun, Citrus, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Through Monday, 3 to 5 inches of rain with local amounts of 8 inches are anticipated across the Keys and southern Florida. Fred is forecast to continue north across the Gulf, making landfall near the Alabama-Florida border on Monday evening.
Across the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle, 3 to 7 inches are expected with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.
From Monday onward, heavy rain and flood impacts could extend into inland portions of the Southeast.