Hurricane Fiona Lashes Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
UNITED STATES—September 19, 2022—Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday and continued to pound the island as the storm struck the Dominican Republic early Monday morning. Most of Puerto Rico remains without power and under flash flood warnings as heavy rain and 90 mph winds lash the island. One area outside Ponce recorded more than 24 inches of rain in 24 hours, with another 4-6 inches expected as the storm moves north, according to CNN. These rain totals have produced massive flooding and landslides with rushing water carrying away vehicles, trees, and bridges.
Officials in Puerto Rico report that it will likely be days before power is fully restored to the island. By Monday, 1.4 million customers were without power, including homes and businesses. Fortunately, CNN reports the San Juan medical center complex was among the first areas to have power restored on Monday, bringing the island’s most important hospital system back online. These outages come nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Maria left much of the island powerless and the infrastructure severely damaged. Some residents lived without power for nearly a year before the damage was repaired. In response to Hurricane Fiona, President Biden approved federal disaster assistance for the U.S. territory on Sunday, and more than 300 FEMA emergency workers are already responding to the crisis, according to CNN.
As Hurricane Fiona crosses the eastern Dominican Republic, up to 12 inches of rain are expected with the potential to cause flooding, landslides, and mudslides, according to CNN. Fiona will strengthen as it moves north into warm open water, possibly becoming the season’s first major hurricane by Wednesday with forecasted winds of 120 mph, according to The Weather Channel. Tropical storm conditions will impact the Bahamas late Monday into Tuesday, and Fiona could threaten Bermuda as a major hurricane by the end of the week. The storm will track well away from the U.S. coast, but high surf and dangerous rip currents could impact coastal communities Wednesday through Saturday.