A tropical storm watch was issued for Bermuda late Tuesday as Hurricane Fiona heads for the local area, after battering the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) say Fiona is heading north.

The NHC says: “Fiona will continue to gather strength before it reaches Bermuda as a Category 4 storm by late Thursday. The center has issued a tropical storm watch for Bermuda.

Forecasters at the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) say: “Major Hurricane Fiona will approach the Island from the southwest, with a projected track to pass to our west late Thursday night through Friday morning.

“Swells and hazardous seas become dangerous early Thursday. Rain bands will sweep over us at times as of midweek. Winds rapidly increase to Tropical Storm Force late Thursday and will likely reach Hurricane Force on Friday morning.”

The Ministry of National Security has also advised residents to keep a close eye on Fiona’s developments in the days ahead.

The Minister of National Security, Michael Weeks, notes that the Emergency Measures Organisation (EMO) will likely convene a meeting early this week to get the latest update from the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS). 

Fiona hit Turks and Caicos after leaving a path of destruction on Puerto Rico Sunday with massive flooding and power outages for millions of residents across the island.

Nearly 80 percent of Puerto Rico was still without power on Tuesday – the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island as a Category 4 hurricane.

Nearly a million residents were left without clean drinking water.

At least two people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Fiona, with two more deaths reported in the Dominican Republic.

Another fatality was reported on the French territory of Guadeloupe.

The system was expected to gain in strength as it heads north to Category 4 status with 140 mph sustained winds and 165 mph gusts by Thursday before passing to the west of Bermuda.

It is also projected to threaten landfall in Nova Scotia as an extratropical system with hurricane-strength winds by Saturday.

The massive Hurricane Fiona spins near the Turks and Caicos islands while Tropical Storm Gaston formed in the north mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, Sept 20, 2022 – NOAA – GOES-East

Hurricane Fiona, the first major hurricane of the season.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gaston formed and strengthened in the Atlantic and another system approaching the Caribbean could become the next tropical depression.

As Fiona gains power in the Atlantic, it’s generating huge swells of 50-foot waves near its center, said NHC deputy director Michael Brennan. A moderate risk of rip currents is in effect from South Florida and up to the Carolinas as well as portions of New England, Brennan added.

“As those waves propagate toward the US East Coast, they’re going to result in dangerous surf and wind current conditions,” Brennan said. “If you’re planning to go to the beach look for any warning flags and pay attention to any advice given by lifeguards or local officials. We don’t want to lose people in the ocean from a storm passing.”

Tropical Storm Gaston formed Tuesday evening about 920 miles west of the Azores with maximum winds increasing to 50 mph, moving north-northwest at 18 mph.

Gaston is expected to remain a tropical storm as it approaches the Azores.

Tropical Storm Gaston cone of uncertainty as of 5pm Tuesday, Sept 20, 2022 – National Hurricane Center

Another tropical wave a few hundred miles east of the Windward Islands heading west at 15 to 20 mph is likely to form into the next system within the next few days, the NHC said.

The system became more organized since Monday and will bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to the islands starting Wednesday.

The NHC said it could grow into Tropical Storm Hermine.

Forecasters are also tracking another new system which is expected to come off the coast of Africa into tropical waters and become a tropical wave.

Fiona became the season’s third hurricane following hurricanes Daniella and Earl earlier this month, in what was forecast to be an above-average tropical season.

As a reminder, residents were urged to:

• Make any small repairs around their home. 
• Secure outdoor furniture. 
• Review family plans and update them with any changes to phone numbers and other important information. 
• Stock up on any medical prescriptions that your family and pets require and ensure you have at least two weeks supply on hand. 
• Check your hurricane kit to make sure you have working flashlights, a portable radio with spare batteries and a stock of non-perishable food to last your family for seven days. 
• Ensure your house insurance policy is up to date.  
• Check on your vulnerable neighbours and ask them if they need any help with their preparations. 
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