Puerto Rico loses power as Hurricane Fiona approaches
Hurricane Fiona has wiped out power for the entire island of Puerto Rico ahead of an expected landfall in Sunday afternoon.
Fiona, which was upgraded to a Category 1 storm Sunday morning, is swirling at 85 mph about 25 miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, as of the National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m., traveling west-northwest at 8 mph.
At least one person has been reported dead in Basse-Terre in the French territory of Guadeloupe, which has seen massive flooding, according to the region’s environmental agency. The man was found dead after his house was swept away by heavy rainfall, as much as 19 inches, and flooding.
More than 1.5 million customers are without electricity Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced on Facebook Sunday afternoon.
Fiona is expected to continue traveling west-northwest before moving near or over Puerto Rico Sunday afternoon or evening, then turn toward the Dominican Republic by Monday and eventually approach the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday.
The storm is likely to veer east into the Atlantic Ocean enough that it should avoid the coast of the U.S, although high surf and rip tides are still possible.
Fiona could drop as much as 12 to 16 inches of rain across the region, with up to 25 inches across eastern and southern Puerto Rico, according to the NHC. The rain will bring life-threatening flash flooding, mudslides, landslides, storm surges up to 3 feet and life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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The Leeward Islands could see 2 inches of rain, 4 to 6 inches in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, 4 to 8 inches in northern and eastern Dominican Republic, 1 to 3 inches in Haiti and 3 to 6 inches in Turks and Caicos.
A hurricane warning is in place for Puerto Rico, including the islands of Vieques and Culebra, and the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo. The U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata are under a tropical storm warning.
President Biden declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico Sunday morning, opening up federal resources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for emergency response and disaster relief efforts.
Public schools in Puerto Rico will be shut Monday and the country’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, urged people in flood zones to evacuate.
Fiona approaches the region almost exactly five years after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and the northeast Caribbean as a Category 4 storm. More than 3,000 people died, almost all in Puerto Rico. Four people also died in the United States, including three swimmers who drowned off the Jersey Shore.
Puerto Rico was last hit by Tropical Storm Peter in September 2021 and Tropical Storm Fred a month earlier.
Fiona is the third hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic Ocean season, following Danielle and Earl.