Hurricane Fiona Approaches Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic

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Hurricane season is definitely underway, as the sixth of this year’s tropical storms was upgraded today from Tropical Storm Fiona to Hurricane Fiona, and it currently has a couple of well-known Caribbean countries in its crosshairs.

the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a hurricane warning for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, NBC News reported. The NHC announcement explained that a hurricane warning means, “means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 24 hours,” and cautioned that, “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”

Fiona’s eye is expected to “move near or over Puerto Rico this afternoon or evening”, the NHC said. As of 2:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan was reporting Fiona’s center as being situated 50 miles south of Ponce Puerto Rico, currently generating 80 mph winds, which are expected to continue strengthening over the next two days. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), where wind speeds are already reaching 45 mph with gusts up to 75 mph.

A hurricane watch is also now in effect for the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, from Cabo Frances Viejo to Puerto Plata, with Fiona on track to pass near the Dominican Republic’s northern coast from Sunday night into Monday.

Fiona is forecast to deliver 12 to 16 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, potentially dumping up to 25 inches locally in some southern and eastern regions. Over the next couple of days, she is expected to bring four to eight inches of rain to the Dominican Republic’s northeastern coast, with up to six inches also forecast to fall across the USVI.

Hurricane Fiona’s projected path as of September 18, 2022. (image via NWS National Hurricane Center)

“This amount of rainfall is likely to cause life-threatening to catastrophic flooding, as well as mudslides and rockfalls in higher terrains,” wrote the NWS San Juan.

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, had previously stated that the heavy rains Fiona brings are especially dangerous because the island’s soil is already very saturated, making flooding and mudslides practically certainties. He also explained that many Puerto Ricans fear the serious power outages it will cause, since the reconstruction of the island’s power grid, which was decimated by 2017’s catastrophic Hurricane Maria, began only recently. Already, the grid is fragile and residents experience power outages daily.

Fiona is forecast to continue gathering strength after she moves away from Puerto Rico and the DR, with tropical storm conditions to potentially affect Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern Bahamas by late Monday or early Tuesday.

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Source: TravelPulse

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