Winds were about 65 mph, with higher gusts.
The center of the storm was about 25 miles west of Apalachicola, and the system was moving 9 mph to the north-northeast.
Fred is expected to bring dangerous storm surge, river flooding and possible tornadoes along the US coast, but the storm itself will begin to quickly weaken after landfall, according to the NHC.
Tropical Depression Eight is moving south at almost 9 mph with maximum sustained winds at 35 mph and is forecast to possibly reach tropical storm strength on Monday.
A tropical storm warning for Fred is in effect for the coast of the Florida Panhandle from Navarre to the Steinhatchee River.
Schools in Bay County, Okaloosa County, Walton County and Santa Rosa County announced all classes were canceled Monday, as were after school activities.
Classes are expected to resume Tuesday, according to posts on each school district’s website.
The storm is expected to bring isolated maximum rainfall totals of 12 inches to the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle through Tuesday, according to the NHC. And heavy rainfall can be expected through parts of southeast Alabama, portions of Georgia and the western Carolinas.
Storm surge is forecast to be highest from Indian Pass to the Steinhatchee River in Florida where a surge of 3 to 5 feet is possible. A storm surge of 1 to 3 feet is forecast Monday from the Alabama-Florida border to Indian Pass, including Pensacola Bay, Choctawhatchee Bay and Saint Andrew Bay.
“As Tropical Storm Fred approaches landfall on the FL Panhandle coastline, the threat for a few tornadoes will increase with supercells moving inland in northeastern and eastern sectors of the circulation,” the Storm Prediction Center said.
Tropical Depression Grace takes aim at still recovering Haiti
Grace weakened from a storm to a tropical depression Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, but it is expected to strengthen to a storm again by Tuesday.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for some parts of the southern coast of Cuba, including Santiago de Cuba, and for the Cayman Islands, the National Hurricane Center said.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for the entire coast of Haiti and for Jamaica and some of Cuba’s southern coast.
The storm watch for the Dominican Republic has been discontinued.
Grace was about 70 miles southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Monday afternoon.
The center of the storm may pass just south or directly over where the earthquake struck Haiti. Either way, there will be impacts that can hamper aid and rescue efforts. Gusty winds and heavy rain are the main threats associated with this storm for Haiti.
Grace is forecast to bring flooding rainfall amounts to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Widespread rainfall of 5 to 10 inches is forecast, with isolated amounts of up to 15 inches that could also lead to flash flooding and mudslides on Monday and Tuesday.
The intensity and the track of Grace after passing Hispaniola remains uncertain. The NHC currently has the storm tracking south of Cuba and toward the Yucatan Peninsula toward the end of the week.
CNN’s Haley Brink, Tyler Mauldin, Jackson Dill and Gene Norman contributed to this report.