Hurricane Fiona brings 'catastrophic' flooding, cuts power to Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona brings ‘catastrophic’ flooding, cuts power to Puerto Rico

An intensifying Hurricane Fiona is bringing heavy rain, wind and power outages to Puerto Rico.This Power has been phased out to the entire island.

Big picture: The National Hurricane Center warned that the storm was dumping more than two feet of rain in Puerto Rico, “causing catastrophic” flooding. The hurricane knocked out the island’s fragile power grid.

  • Hurricane Fiona made landfall near Punta Tocon on the island’s southeastern coast around 3:20 p.m. local time, the National Hurricane Center said in a statement. tweet. The agency said maximum sustained winds were 85 mph.
  • Since the NHC was updated at 8 a.m. ET on what was then Tropical Storm Fiona, the storm’s winds have increased by 15 mph.
  • The storm is a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to remain so after making landfall in Puerto Rico.
  • Ponce, on the southern side of the island, had sustained winds of 69 mph with maximum gusts of 103 mph, according to the Hurricane Center.
  • President Biden has declared Puerto Rico facing a federal disaster and has mobilized aid to the island.
    Data: National Hurricane Center; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios
Data: National Hurricane Center; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Threat Level: The storm could bring heavy rain to Puerto Rico on Monday, with 12 to 18 inches of rain expected across the board. In some places, especially at higher altitudes, the amount of drop will be higher, possibly as much as 30 inches in a short period of time.

  • “These rains will cause life-threatening catastrophic flash flooding and urban flooding in eastern Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, as well as mudslides and landslides in higher-lying areas,” the hurricane center warned at 2 p.m. Sunday.
  • As of 5:00 p.m. ET, nearly the entire island was under a flash flood warning.
  • Heavy rain and hurricanes are also expected in the eastern Dominican Republic on Sunday night and Monday.
  • Puerto Rico’s power grid, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017, has faltered, with about 1.4 million customers without power as of 2 p.m. ET, according to Poweroutage.us.
  • The test for utility operators now will be how quickly they can restore power after the storm has passed.

Notice: NOAA scientists managed to fly a remote-controlled “navigation drone” into Hurricane Fiona’s eyes, which helped validate their strength estimates.

  • A storm surge of 1 to 3 feet above normal dry land is expected on Puerto Rico’s south coast Saturday, assuming the peak tide occurs at high tide.
  • The NWS in San Juan issued a flash flood warning throughout Sunday as the rain swelled rivers and streams. Videos from social media showed floods washing away bridges, power lines and other infrastructure in southwestern Puerto Rico.

The storm already has a record of causing damaging flooding, dumping nearly 20 inches of rain on the French island of Guadeloupe late last week.

What’s next: It is expected to continue to intensify once Fiona moves toward northwest Puerto Rico and the northern Dominican Republic. The storm is expected to turn slowly to the north midweek as it moves near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  • Fiona is now expected to be the first “major” Atlantic hurricane of the season to reach a Category 3 or higher intensity by midweek.
  • Most computer models now bring the storm to seas east of the continental United States, but it could pose a threat to Bermuda later this week.

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