After making landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, Hurricane Fiona made a second landfall about 12 hours later in the eastern Dominican Republic early Monday morning.
Maximum sustained winds for Fiona’s first landfall in Puerto Rico were estimated at about 85 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. High winds were reported across the island on Sunday, including a 103-mph wind gust in the city of Ponce.
Hurricane Fiona was slightly stronger for its second landfall in the Dominican Republic, with maximum sustained winds estimated at about 90 mph – still a Category 1 hurricane. The Punta Cana International Airport clocked a 79-mph wind gust near the time of landfall in the pre-dawn hours of Monday.
The entire archipelago of Puerto Rico was plunged into a blackout Sunday afternoon as Hurricane Fiona’s high winds caused severe damage to the U.S. territory’s power grid, which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria about five years ago in October 2017. Nearly 1.5 million customers were without power on Sunday afternoon.
According to LUMA Energy – the power company responsible for Puerto Rico – power had been restored to about 100,000 customers as of Monday morning within the municipalities of Toa Alta, Toa Baja, the San Juan metropolitan area, Bayamón and Corozal.
In addition to the blackout, torrential rain from Hurricane Fiona has caused “catastrophic flooding” across Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said. The National Weather Service office in San Juan had issued a Flash Flood Emergency for parts of Puerto Rico on Sunday night as the catastrophic flood event was producing 2 to 4 inches of rain per hour.
More than 2 feet of rain has already fallen in portions of Puerto Rico, including Ponce and Lago Cerrillos, over the past two days.
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico on Sunday ahead of Hurricane Fiona’s arrival. That declaration authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to mobilize equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the storm.
Some residents of Puerto Rico did not take the storm for granted and used the hours before Fiona’s arrival to stock up on gasoline and other supplies.
Hurricane Fiona turned deadly Friday evening after a man was swept away by floodwaters on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after heavy rainfall.
Several islands in the eastern Caribbean also reported roof damage, power outages and flooding.
As of Monday morning, Hurricane Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph with higher gusts. Fiona was slowly moving off to the northwest at 8 mph. The center of the hurricane was about 35 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic.
Fiona’s wind and rain impacts will continue to spread across the Dominican Republic through Monday night while the hurricane’s outer rainbands also persist over Puerto Rico into Monday afternoon.
Where are watches and warnings in effect?
A Hurricane Warning has been issued for the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, as well as for the Turks and Caicos. A Hurricane Warning means sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected.
A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata. A Hurricane Watch means sustained winds of at least 74 mph are possible – in this case, within the next 12 to 24 hours.
Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico, portions of the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, as well as the southeastern Bahamas. A Tropical Storm Warning means sustained winds between 39 and 73 mph are expected within the next 36 hours.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from west of Cabo Caucedo to Barahona. A Tropical Storm Watch means sustained winds between 39 and 73 mph are possible within the next 48 hours.
What is the forecast for Hurricane Fiona?
Hurricane Fiona will move slowly toward the northwest through Monday night before making a turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday and eventually a northward turn by Wednesday.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, this track will take the center of Hurricane Fiona over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic through Monday morning, then it will emerge over the southwestern Atlantic on Monday afternoon. Fiona is predicted to pass near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday.
Some strengthening is expected over the next few days after the hurricane emerges over the southwestern Atlantic, and Fiona is expected to become a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) by Wednesday.
What are the impacts of Hurricane Fiona?
Hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are currently spreading across portions of the Dominican Republic within the Hurricane Warning area. Tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph) will continue on Puerto Rico through Monday morning and over portions of the Dominican Republic within the Tropical Storm Warning area through Monday night.
Heavy rain from the outer bands of Hurricane Fiona will continue across Puerto Rico into Monday afternoon. The center of Fiona will persist over the eastern Dominican Republic into Monday afternoon with heavy rainbands then lasting through Monday night.
Hurricane Fiona is expected to dump an additional 4 to 6 inches of rain across southern Puerto Rico, with isolated amounts up to 10 inches. Storm totals between 12 and 20 inches are expected, with localized maximum amounts up to 30 inches.
In northern portions of Puerto Rico, an additional 1 to 4 inches of rain is likely, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches. That will result in storm totals of 4 to 12 inches, with localized maximum amounts up to 20 inches.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the heavy rain will continue to produce life-threatening and catastrophic flooding, along with mudslides and landslides, across Puerto Rico.
Flood Watches remain in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through Monday afternoon.
In the northern and eastern Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona is forecast to drop an additional 4 to 6 inches of rain, with isolated amounts up to 8 inches. This will result in storm totals up to 15 inches in the eastern Dominican Republic.
Between 1 and 4 inches of rain is predicted for the rest of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The Turks and Caicos are expected to receive 4 to 8 inches of rain from Hurricane Fiona, while the southeastern Bahamas are forecast to pick up 1 to 3 inches of rain.
Will Hurricane Fiona threaten Florida or the U.S. East Coast?
A dip in the jet stream is forecast to move over Florida and the Bahamas early this week, which will provide an opening for Hurricane Fiona to make a northward turn.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, confidence has increased in Fiona’s track which will take it near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday and then out into the western and central Atlantic – away from Florida and the U.S. East Coast.
However, Fiona will intensify as it moves north, potentially into a Category 3 or stronger hurricane, and these high winds will send large waves toward the U.S. East Coast toward the end of the week, increasing the risk of life-threatening rip currents.
The various possibilities of Fiona’s track overlaid on the five-day forecast cone of uncertainty are shown on the map below, and you can see there’s good agreement among the computer forecast models.
Another area to watch in Atlantic
In the central subtropical Atlantic, a weak area of low pressure is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, some slow development of this system is possible over the next couple of days before environmental conditions become less favorable later this week.
This system is expected to generally move northward or northeastward while remaining over the open central subtropical Atlantic.
The National Hurricane Center currently gives the system a low chance of development in the next five days.
2022 Atlantic hurricane season off to a slow start
Early to mid-September is the time of the season when sea-surface temperatures are the warmest, upper-level winds relax and drier air is typically not widespread.
Unlike recent active years, dry air has been more dominant than usual across the eastern parts of the Atlantic Basin, which has stunted the organization and development of tropical cyclones.
August ended without seeing a single tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Basin for only the second time in the satellite era.
During an average year, nine named storms and four hurricanes have typically already formed by now, but so far in 2022, the tally stands at just six named storms and three hurricanes.