Hurricane watch issued for Puerto Rico ahead of Tropical Storm Fiona

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Tropical Storm Fiona is set to make landfall in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday, posing a significant flood and landslide threat to the largest US territory, forecasters say.

A hurricane watch was issued Saturday for Puerto Rico, reflecting meteorologists’ belief that the storm could form into a hurricane – with sustained winds of at least 120 km/h – by the time it is near or over the island on Sunday at night. Meanwhile, hurricane watches are in effect in the US Virgin Islands and parts of the Dominican Republic, the National Hurricane Center said.

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“Fiona is expected to move near or south of the Virgin Islands (Saturday) at night, approach Puerto Rico (Saturday night) and move near or over Puerto Rico on Sunday night” before moving near from the Dominican Republic on Monday, the central hurricane said.

Fiona’s biggest threat is the expected rain in Puerto Rico of 300-400mm, with 508mm in isolated areas, meteorologists say.

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“These rains are likely to produce flash and urban flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher ground, particularly in southern and eastern Puerto Rico and eastern Dominican Republic,” the hurricane center said.

Fiona, which hit Guadeloupe and other islands in the northeast Caribbean with heavy rain and strong winds on Friday and early Saturday, was centered in the Caribbean, about 209 kilometers southeast of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands at 12:00 pm ET this Saturday, the NHC said.

It had maximum sustained winds of 96 km/h – below the 120 km/h threshold for a Category 1 hurricane, although strengthening is expected as the weekend progresses. Tropical storm conditions – including winds of at least 62km/h – are expected to hit the US and British Virgin Islands starting Saturday afternoon and spread across Puerto Rico on Saturday night.

Hurricane conditions were expected in Puerto Rico on Sunday and Sunday night — and are possible in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday night, the hurricane center said.

The storm could also be hurricane-force when it passes over or near the Dominican Republic on Monday, forecasters said.

Fiona became a tropical storm over the Atlantic on Wednesday before entering the eastern Caribbean on Friday.

Heavy rain expected

Here’s the amount of rain expected at each location, according to the hurricane center:

  • Leeward Islands, including Guadeloupe, and the northern Windward Islands: 20-100 mm above what they have already received.
  • British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: 100-150 inches, with isolated areas of 250 inches possible.
  • Puerto Rico: 12-16 inches, with 500-inch isolated areas possible.
  • Dominican Republic: 100-200 inches, with isolated areas of 300 inches possible, especially on the eastern coast.
  • Haiti: 25-70 inches, with maximum isolated totals of 4 inches.
  • Turks and Caicos: 100-250 inches.

This is the first time in more than three years that Puerto Rico has received a hurricane watch or warning. The last time was in August 2019, when Hurricane Dorian passed through the island as a Category 1 storm.

A few tropical storms have passed over the island since then, but Dorian was the last hurricane-force storm to pass within 80 km, CNN meteorologists said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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