Hurricane Fiona could bring ‘catastrophic flooding’ as eye nears Puerto Rico


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tropical Storm Fiona was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Sunday as it continued its approach to Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said.

According to the NHC’s 2 p.m. update, Fiona was 25 miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The system had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph while moving west-northwest at 8 mph.

The NHC said Fiona could bring “catastrophic flooding” and life-threatening mudslides to Puerto Rico.

“Parts of Puerto Rico could pick up over 12 inches of rain before skirting the east coast of the Dominican Republic Monday,” meteorologist Eric Stone said.

Forecasters said the downpour could bring up to 25 inches of rain in isolated areas.


The storm knocked out power to more than half a million customers and several health institutions, including Puerto Rico’s largest public hospital, which was running on generators. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Anxiety ran high across the island with Fiona due just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that hit on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?’” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

President Joe Biden declared an emergency crisis for the commonwealth, ordering federal assistance to be sent to help Puerto Rican authorities respond to the potential dangers.

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

A hurricane watch is in effect for:

  • North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • South coast of the Dominican Republic west of Cabo Caucedo to Barahona
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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