Hurricane Fiona causes ‘catastrophic’ flooding and knocks out power in Puerto Rico

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An intensifying Hurricane Fiona brings heavy rain, high winds and power outages to Puerto Rico. The the power has been cut to the whole island.

The big picture: The storm dumps more than two feet of rain in Puerto Rico, “causing catastrophic flooding,” the National Hurricane Center warns. Hurricane-force winds destroyed the island’s fragile power grid.

  • Hurricane Fiona made landfall near Punta Tocon, located on the island’s southeast coast, around 3:20 p.m. local time, the National Hurricane Center said in a statement. Tweeter. Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 85 mph, the agency said.
  • The storm has seen winds increase by 15 mph since the NHC updated Tropical Storm Fiona at 8 a.m. ET.
  • The storm is a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to remain so until landfall in Puerto Rico.
  • Ponce, on the south side of the island, experienced sustained winds of 69 mph with a peak wind gust of 103 mph, according to the Hurricane Center.
  • President Biden has already declared a federal disaster for Puerto Rico, mobilizing the delivery of aid to the island.
    Data: National Hurricane Center;  Map: Jared Whalen/Axios
Data: National Hurricane Center; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Threat level: The storm is likely to bring torrential rains to Puerto Rico through Monday, with an extended area of ​​12 to 18 inches of rain expected. Higher amounts will fall in some places, especially at higher elevations where up to 30 inches could fall in a short time.

  • “These rains will produce life-threatening and catastrophic flash floods and urban flooding in Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, as well as landslides and landslides in areas of higher ground,” warned the Hurricane Center at 2 p.m. Sunday.
  • Almost the entire island was under a flash flood warning as of 5:00 p.m. ET.
  • Heavy rain and hurricane force winds are also expected in eastern areas of the Dominican Republic Sunday evening and Monday.
  • Puerto Rico’s power grid, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017, has weakened, with about 1.4 million customers without power as of 2 p.m. ET, according to Poweroutage.us.
  • The test for utility operators will now be how quickly they can restore power once the storm has passed.

To note : NOAA scientists successfully navigated a remote-controlled “Sail Drone” into the eye of Hurricane Fiona, which validated their intensity estimate.

  • Flooding 1 to 3 feet above normally dry land is expected along the south shore of Puerto Rico on Saturday, provided the peak surge hits at high tide.
  • The NWS in San Juan issued flash flood warnings throughout Sunday as rains cause rivers and streams to rise. Social media video shows torrents of water washing away bridges, power lines and other infrastructure in southwestern Puerto Rico.

The storm has already recorded destructive flooding, having dumped nearly 20 inches of rain on the French island of Guadeloupe late last week.

And after: Fiona should continue to intensify once it moves northwest of Puerto Rico and north of the Dominican Republic. The storm is expected to slowly turn north by the middle of the week as it moves near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  • Fiona is now expected to become the first “major” Atlantic hurricane of the season, with Category 3 intensity or higher by mid-week.
  • Most computer models now take the storm out to sea well east of the continental United States, but it could pose a threat to Bermuda this weekend.

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