FOX Forecast Center: By Brian Donegan & Steven Yablonski – Fiona intensified into a major hurricane overnight near the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Hurricane Fiona could reach Category 4 intensity by early Wednesday as it heads in the direction of Bermuda through the end of the week.
Even with Hurricane Fiona pulling farther away from the Caribbean, its outer bands will continue to produce heavy rain over coastal and eastern sections of the Dominican Republic and localized portions of Puerto Rico through Tuesday. The FOX Forecast Center warns that these rains could produce additional localized life-threatening flash flooding.
Hurricane Fiona first crashed into the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, leaving catastrophic flooding and most of the island in the dark, and then hit the eastern Dominican Republic about 12 hours later n the pre-dawn hours of Monday.
Maximum sustained winds for Hurricane 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.
Downed power lines on road PR-743 in Cayey, Puerto Rico as the island awoke to a general power outage on September 19, 2022 in San Juan, Puerto Rico – Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images
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 early Monday morning. A gust of 98 mph was later recorded in Samana at El Catey International Airport on Monday afternoon.
The entire archipelago of Puerto Rico plunged into a blackout Sunday afternoon as Hurricane Fiona’s high winds caused severe damage to the US 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 260,000 customers as of early Tuesday morning. However, more than 1.2 million were still without electricity, which is more than 85% of Puerto Rico.
Where is Hurricane Fiona?
As of early Tuesday morning, Fiona was a Category 3 hurricane centered near Grand Turk Island and was moving north-northwestward at 10 mph. Any hurricane that is rated Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is defined as a major hurricane.
Hurricane-force winds and heavy rain around the center of Hurricane Fiona will impact the Turks and Caicos through Tuesday afternoon with a continued risk of life-threatening flooding.
Tropical-storm-force winds and rainbands should also begin to spread over the southeastern Bahamas later Tuesday morning.
What are the impacts of Hurricane Fiona?
Hurricane-force winds from Fiona are expected to reach the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday. Winds from Hurricane Fiona will taper off for Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic as the hurricane move further away.
These strong winds are expected to reach portions of the southeastern Bahamas by early Tuesday.
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or more.
Watches and warnings are in effect along the path of Hurricane Fiona.(FOX Weather)
What is the forecast for Hurricane Fiona?
Back over the warm Atlantic Ocean waters, Hurricane Fiona is gradually strengthening and moving slowly toward the northwest before making a northeastward turn by Wednesday.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, this track will take the center of Hurricane Fiona near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday.
As Fiona continues to gather strength, it is forecast to become a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) on Tuesday.
Computer models take Fiona through and past Bermuda late Thursday as a major hurricane. Take a look at the cone of uncertainty below with the forecast track.
Hurricane-force winds currently extend out 30 miles, while tropical-storm-force winds extend out 140 miles from the center.
“Interests in Bermuda should monitor the progress of Fiona,” wrote the NHC in their latest forecast discussion.
Will Hurricane Fiona threaten Florida or the US 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 away from the US coast.
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 US 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 US East Coast toward the end of the week, increasing the risk of life-threatening rip currents.
The FOX Forecast Center puts Bermuda within the forecast cone for late Thursday.
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 on a track away from the US.
Spaghetti models overlaid on the five-day forecast cone of uncertainty for Hurricane Fiona – FOX Weather
While the Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, Sept. 10 is the date when the most hurricanes and tropical storms have occurred in the historical records – FOX Weather
Members of the Nevares remove the mud from their home after La Plata river overflooded and their two-story house was almost completely submerged on September 19, 2022, in Cayey, Puerto Rico – Photo by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images
Top Feature Photo: The projected path and intensity of Hurricane Fiona – FOX Weather