Packing maximum sustained winds up to 115 mph, Hurricane Fiona has strengthened into a Category 2 storm and is forecast to pass near or east of the Turks and Caicos Islands early today (Sept 20).

Fiona has already pounded Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and is expected to pass near or west of Bermuda on Thursday night as a dangerous Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Fiona was still producing heavy rainfall and “life-threatening flash flooding” in the eastern portions of the Dominican Republic as of 2am.

Meanwhile, forecasters at the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) say Hurricane Fiona continues to approach the local area from the south and remains a potential threat to the island.

The latest update said Fiona has “a projected track to pass to our near west as a major hurricane during Thursday night into Friday morning”.

“Rain bands will sweep over us as Fiona approaches the area. Swells begin late Tuesday and hazardous seas become dangerous early Thursday. Winds rapidly increase to hurricane force late Thursday into Friday.”

The BWS forecast calls for overcast skies with frequent rain showers and a chance of thunder on Thursday, when winds out of the southeast will pick up to “gale force by evening, then storm force to hurricane force with gusts to hurricane force overnight while veering southwesterly”.

The chance of frequent rain with a chance of thunder is expected to continue on Friday with “storm force to hurricane force gusts to hurricane force, decreasing strong to storm force by afternoon, then veering west-northwesterly moderate to strong midday and northwesterly overnight”.