Weather

All of Puerto Rico out of power as Hurricane Fiona lashes island

Hurricane Fiona battered Puerto Rico on Sunday, slicing power to the whole island, whereas bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding. Conditions quickly deteriorated even earlier than the Category 1 storm made landfall Sunday afternoon, and the state of affairs will not be anticipated to enhance a lot going into Monday.

As the wind and rain escalated Sunday, greater than 1.4 million folks skilled power outages, which is 100% of the purchasers tracked on the island, in accordance with PowerOutage.us. Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, stated in a tweet on Sunday afternoon that power was out on the whole island.

Luma, the personal consortium contracted by Puerto Rico to handle its electrical transmission and distribution system, stated the deteriorating climate and powerful winds have been “extremely dangerous and impeding our ability to evaluate the entire situation.” Luma stated it may take a number of days to revive power and requested prospects for “patience.”

The storm made landfall alongside the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico close to Punta Tocon at 3:20 p.m. native time, in accordance with the National Hurricane Center. The heart warned that each Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic ought to count on “catastrophic flooding” from the slow-moving storm.

Puerto Ricans prepared for the approaching Hurricane Fiona, which officially became a hurricane on Sept. 18. (Video: Reuters)

A hurricane warning is in effect for the entire U.S. territory, including the islands of Vieques and Culebra, and the eastern Dominican Republic. Tropical storm warnings cover the U.S. Virgin Islands and the north coast of the Dominican Republic west to Puerto Plata, regions that are also under a hurricane watch to account for Fiona’s possible intensification.

Emanuel Rodriguez, a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said that flooding had already started in Puerto Rico and was expected to continue overnight through Monday morning. At least 10 rivers had already flooded, he said, advising people to stay away from rivers, streams and flood areas. Rodriguez added that NOAA had already received multiple reports of minor damage to fragile structures across the island.

Numerous areas had received double-digit rainfall quantities, with some totals near 14 inches as of late afternoon. Flash flood warnings blanketed the island as the Hurricane Center increased projected storm totals to up to 30 inches by Monday morning.

President Biden approved Puerto Rico’s emergency declaration Sunday morning as the tropical storm approached the island to free up federal resources to provide assistance in supporting the local disaster relief efforts.

Wind gusts in southern Puerto Rico reached 50 to over 100 mph Sunday, compromising its beleaguered electrical grid. The strongest gust of 103 mph was clocked in Ponce, while San Juan recorded a gust of 55 mph.

Puerto Rico has a protracted historical past of power grid crises and makes an attempt to repair its system. Since Hurricane Maria left the nation with out power for months in 2017, residents have known as on native and federal governments to enhance pure catastrophe response and recovery efforts.

An arrest warrant, a fugitive CEO: Puerto Rico’s effort to denationalise its electrical grid

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the state-run utility supplier, was awarded $9.4 billion for initiatives to “transform the island’s electrical system,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced in 2021. And this year, FEMA announced 15 new initiatives — totaling greater than $107 million in funds — devoted to creating Puerto Rico’s power grid extra dependable.

In a press release on the time, FEMA Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José Baquero stated the initiatives would take time, however that the company was “focused on the goal of an unprecedented recovery.”

Fiona’s heart passes Puerto Rico

After making landfall in excessive southwest Puerto Rico at 3:20 p.m., Fiona’s heart handed again over the waters of the Mona Passage to its west. At 5 p.m., it was positioned 10 miles west of Mayaguez and 75 miles east-southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Its peak winds have been 85 mph and it was headed to the northwest at 9 mph.

Even although the middle had handed to its west, the storm was drawing a conveyor belt of torrential rain over Puerto Rico that was anticipated to final by way of a lot of the evening.

Extreme rainfall and flash flooding

A widespread 12 to 18 inches of rain with localized 30-inch totals are anticipated throughout a lot Puerto Rico, with the lesser quantities within the far northern reaches of the island. The heaviest totals will probably be present in jap and southeastern Puerto Rico, the place a persistent onshore movement east of Fiona’s heart will tug ashore a nonstop stream of tropical moisture ripe for a critical deluge. The territory’s excessive terrain can even improve torrential rainfall within the mountains.

Sharp rises in rivers have already been famous throughout Puerto Rico — with some topping 10 toes in just some hours. That will contribute to potential mudslides and landslides, particularly in hilly or mountainous areas, that might show harmful or lethal. Travel is discouraged by way of at the least Monday morning as the tough situations start to subside southeast to northwest, though stagnant excessive water and a few mudslide threat will stay.

The strongest winds will stay wrapped across the eye, which means this won’t be a widespread damaging to damaging wind occasion like Maria was in 2017. Instead, most inland areas can count on wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph. That could also be sufficient to lead to giant tree limbs falling, however widespread structural harm is unlikely.

Near the south coast of Puerto Rico, winds might gust nearer to 60 mph east of the storm’s heart, besides within the jap eyewall, the place just a few 80 to 100-plus mph gusts are possible on the seashores. The biggest chance of robust eyewall gusts is someplace west of Ponce, maybe within the neighborhood of Guanica, La Parguera or particularly Cabo Rojo. Winds of that magnitude might trigger minor roof harm and will down bushes, which may lead to pockets of structural harm.

Storm surge and rip currents

The measurement and power of Fiona aren’t enough to supply greater than a minor storm surge, or risen in ocean water above usually dry land, of a foot or two in most areas, however rip currents will stay an issue by way of the beginning of the workweek. There is a excessive threat of rip currents alongside Puerto Rico’s southern seashores, and a average threat on the north shore of the island. Rip currents will stay harmful by way of Tuesday, and care must be taken to keep away from the water. Swimming will not be beneficial.

The heart of Fiona will cross the Mona Passage between western Puerto Rico and the jap Dominican Republic early Monday. That may deliver the eyewall near Punta Cana through the predawn hours Monday. Four to eight inches of rain, with localized totals as much as a foot, are projected for the jap Dominican Republic.

From there, Fiona’s evolution carefully hinges on its path. If it continues hewing on the southern edge of the envelope of predictions, it might have a more in-depth brush with the Dominican Republic’s mountains than fashions are simulating. That may disrupt the storm’s core circulation and immediate a reorganization that might quickly weaken it. Conversely, if Fiona skirts the mountains to the east, it is going to stay intact and in a position to proceed strengthening.

As Fiona has intensified, it has grown taller, which means it could possibly “feel” southerly winds on the excessive altitudes. That has been answerable for its slight northward flip prior to now 12 hours, and can proceed tugging Fiona north over the following a number of days.

A tropical storm warning is up for Turks and Caicos as effectively as the southeastern Bahamas, though it’s attainable the storm’s heaviest rains and strongest winds will stay east of these islands.

Eventually, an approaching trough, or dip within the jet stream, will scoot eastward over the U.S. East Coast and out to sea, dragging Fiona with it. That is sweet information for mainland U.S. residents, however may deliver Fiona precariously near Bermuda late Thursday into Friday as a high-end Category 2 hurricane approaching main hurricane standing.

There is an opportunity the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland might be in line for eventual impacts towards subsequent weekend, however confidence stays low.

Jason Samenow, Arelis R. Hernández and Praveena Somasundaram contributed reporting.

correction

A earlier model of this text misspelled the identify of a municipality in Puerto Rico. It is Cabo Rojo, not Rojo Cabo.

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