The eye of Hurricane Fiona made landfall over extreme southwestern Puerto Rico Sunday and headed for the eastern Dominic Republic.
The center of Fiona is forecast to move near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic Sunday night and Monday. On Tuesday Fiona is expected to be near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo and a hurricane watch for the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata.
The government of the Bahamas also has issued a tropical storm warning for the Turks and Caicos and for the Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands
Fiona caused an island-wide blackout in Puerto Rico on Sunday, bringing torrential rain, mudslides and a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet.
The third Atlantic hurricane of the season, Fiona is forecast to become a major Category 2 hurricane by midweek with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. At that point, the storm’s center is expected to be somewhere in a broad area that encompasses the southern Bahamas.
One man died in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods from then-Tropical Storm Fiona washed his home away, according to the Associated Press.
Fiona closed in on Puerto Rico Sunday, days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a deadly Category 4 that hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.
At 5 p.m. Sunday, the Category 1 hurricane was producing top winds of 85 mph with strengthening forecast during the next 48 hours. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
There were concerns about Puerto Rico’s weak power grid ahead of the storm. The lights went out briefly as Puerto Rican officials held a briefing on the storm earlier in the weekend.
A hurricane watch for the U.S. Virgin Islands was lifted Sunday morning.
“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?’” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.
Flash and urban flooding with mudslides are expected in higher terrain, “particularly in Puerto Rico,” forecasters said.
The hurricane center said the storm should strengthen as it enters an area of increased humidity and lower wind shear, the high-level winds that can disrupt a storm’s structure.
Forecasters also are tracking one other disturbance. As of Sunday morning, disorganized showers and thunderstorms over the central Atlantic are associated with the northern portion of a tropical wave. Some slow development of this system is possible during the early or middle part of next week while it moves slowly north.
In the past 50 years, there have been four hurricane seasons without a major hurricane (at least 111 mph sustained windspeed): 2013, 1994, 1986, 1972. In the other 46 years in that span, the latest in a season that a Category 3 storm or higher has been born has been Sept. 22 (both with Emily in 1987 and Ellen in 1973). In that past half-century, in addition to Emily and Ellen, only Hurricane Isidore in 2002 became a season’s first major hurricane later than Sept. 18, intensifying to a Category 3 on Sept. 21
It’s now past the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season with five previous named storms before Fiona. AccuWeather notes that “not a single hurricane has come within striking distance of the East Coast or Gulf Coast” this season.
The next storm to form would be Gasto
The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021′s season was the third-most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.