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Hurricane “Fiona” makes landfall in Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding and massive power outages

hurricane fiona 1910z puerto rico landfall september 18 2022 f

Category 1 Hurricane “Fiona” made landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico near Punta Tocon at 19:20 UTC on September 18, 2022, with maximum sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 986 hPa.

  • The Governor of Puerto Rico described the damage as catastrophic.
  • This is the first hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since Hurricane “Maria” in 2017.

Fiona brought widespread rain – from 125 to 250 mm (5 to 10 inches) across much of central, eastern and southern parts of the islands, with localized amounts up to 500 mm (20 inches) in the mountainous areas.

The rain triggered life-threatening flash flooding and landslides, trapping residents in the towns of Arecibo, Barranquitas, Caguas, Coqui, Parcelas La Milagrosa and Patillas, according to reports received by the National Weather Service in San Juan.1

hurricane fiona 1910 puerto rico landfall september 18 2022 bg
Hurricane “Fiona” at 19:10 UTC on September 18, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
hurricane fiona 1910 puerto rico landfall september 18 2022 bgz
Hurricane “Fiona” at 19:10 UTC on September 18, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

NWS issued a flash flood emergency for Salinas County where multiple swift-water rescues were performed.

A temporary bridge in Utuado – build after Hurricane “Maria” in 2017 was washed away, while strong winds downed trees, blocking roads and knocking down power to the entire island (population 3.1 million).

At 06:00 UTC on September 19, the center of Fiona was located about 40 km (25 miles) S of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 140 km/h (85 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 979 hPa.2

It was moving WNW at 15 km/h (9 mph). A northwestward motion is expected to begin this morning, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday and the north on Wednesday, September 21.

hurricane fiona 06z september 19 2022 nhc fcst
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra; The coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo; Turks and Caicos.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata; Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the south coast of the Dominican Republic west of Cabo Caucedo to Barahona.

On the forecast track, the center of Fiona will move over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic this morning (LT), and near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, September 20.

Some strengthening is expected during the next few days, and Fiona is forecast to become a major hurricane by Wednesday.

Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in portions of the warning area in the Dominican Republic within the next few hours. Tropical storm conditions will continue to spread over portions of the Dominican Republic within the warning area through Monday.

Heavy rains from Fiona will continue across Puerto Rico overnight tonight and spread over the Dominican Republic through Monday.

These rains will continue to produce life-threatening and catastrophic flash and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and portions of the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain.

Fiona is forecast to continue to strengthen after moving away from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Hurricane conditions are expected in portions of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, and tropical storm conditions are expected in the southeastern Bahamas by late Monday or early Tuesday.

References:

1 Hurricane Fiona Lashes Puerto Rico With Flooding Rain, Landslides – TWC – September 19, 2022

2 Hurricane Fiona – Intermediate Advisory Number 19A – NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL – 200 AM AST Mon Sep 19 2022

Featured image: Hurricane “Fiona” at 19:10 UTC on September 18, 2022. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

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