Hurricane Fiona heads to Dominican Republic amid 'catastrophic' damage in Puerto Rico
Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA)
Hurricane Fiona was bearing down on the Dominican Republic early Monday after knocking out the power grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was "catastrophic."
Update: Forecasters tracking 3 systems, including one heading toward Caribbean
No deaths have been reported, but authorities in the U.S. territory said it was too early to estimate the damage. More rain is expected, with up to 30 inches of rain possible in parts of Puerto Rico.
Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing a man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said.
The storm has turned north and is heading back into the Atlantic, where it is expected to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane.
Hurricane forecasters also are tracking another disturbance in the Atlantic, but it doesn't pose an immediate threat to land. Meanwhile, the Gulf of Mexico is expected to be quiet for the next 48 hours.
Here's what we know about the tropics as of 7 a.m. Monday from the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Fiona causes 'catastrophic' flooding
Hurricane Fiona was about 35 miles southeast of Samana, Dominican Republic, as of 7 a.m. Monday and was heading northwest at 8 mph.
It is expected to move over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic during the next few hours and emerge over the Atlantic later Monday. It's then expected to pass near or east of the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday.
It has winds of 90 mph, which means it is a strong Category 1 hurricane. Category 2 storms have winds of at least 96 mph. It's expected to strengthen into a Category 3 storm by Wednesday, with peak winds of 125 mph.
President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, where the storm disrupted transmission lines on Sunday, leading to "a blackout on all the island," according to the main utility company.
The storm pummeled cities and towns along Puerto Rico's southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.
See the full advisory with current watches and warnings.
Disturbance in Atlantic
Hurricane forecasters also are tracking a poorly defined disturbance that's over the central Atlantic. It's moving north over the open water, and forecasters said some slow development is possible during the next couple days.
It has a 20% chance of developing into at least a tropical depression within 5 days.
The shaded area on the graphic is where a storm could develop and is not a track. The National Hurricane Center releases a track when a tropical depression forms or is about to form.
The categories, in order of increasing strength, are tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane (categories 1 through 5). Systems are named when they develop into a tropical storm. The next available name is Gaston.
Read the full outlook.
Busiest time of the season
This is historically the busiest time of the Atlantic hurricane season.
In the last 100 years, the tropics have been the most active in August, September and October, with Sept. 10 being the peak of the season, according to federal forecasters. About 80% of the systems that have hit the Gulf Coast formed during this time, according to the National Weather Service in Slidell.
So far, there have been six named storms this season - Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl and Fiona. The next available name is Gaston.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30, but storms can form any time.
On the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the wind categories are:
Tropical depression: up to 38 mphTropical storm: 39 to 73 mphCategory 1 hurricane: 74 to 95 mphCategory 2 hurricane: 96 to 110 mphCategory 3 hurricane (major hurricane): 111 to 129 mphCategory 4 hurricane: 130-156 mphCategory 5 hurricane: 157 mph and higher
What to do now
Now is the time to review hurricane plans and make sure your property is ready for hurricane season.
Here are some tips from the National Weather Service for how to prepare for the season:
Put together an emergency kit. Here are 60+ nonperishable items to consider including.Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters.Make a plan with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in touch and where you will go if there's an emergency. Here's how to decide if you should evacuate.Plan your evacuation route and have an alternate route. Here are 15 things to do before evacuating.Make a plan for your pets. Here are some tips.If you have a generator, check it and see if any maintenance needs to be done. Don't forget these important generator safety tips.Do any maintenance you've been putting off on your vehicle.Review your insurance policies.Keep your trees around your home trimmed to prevent damage from broken branches. Here's advice from gardening expert Dan Gill.Have materials in advance to board windows to protect them from flying debris.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Don't miss a storm update this hurricane season. Sign up for our free Hurricane Center newsletter.