Last: Central Fiona was heading into the eastern Dominican Republic Sunday night, but heavy rain and “catastrophic” flooding continued to sweep through much of Puerto Rico, according to the National Hurricane Center. tweet.
The Big Picture: The National Hurricane Center has warned that the storm is dumping more than two feet of rain in Puerto Rico, causing “catastrophic” flooding. Hurricane force winds have wiped out the island fragile power grid.
- Fiona made landfall near Punta Tocón, on the island’s southeast coast, around 3:20 p.m. local time with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, per NHC tweet.
- The storm has seen a 15-mph wind increase since the NHC update on Tropical Storm Fiona at 8 a.m. ET.
Zoom: Fiona is a Category 1 hurricane and is expected to remain so by making landfall in Puerto Rico.
- Ponce, located on the south side of the island, saw sustained winds of 69 mph with maximum gusts of 103 mph per hurricane center.
- President Biden declared a federal disaster for Puerto Rico, mobilizing aid delivery to the island.
Threat level: The storm is likely to bring heavy rain to Puerto Rico through Monday, with 12 to 18 inches of rain expected. Higher amounts will decrease in some locations, especially at higher elevations, where they can drop as much as 30 inches in a short period of time.
- “These rains will lead to life-threatening and catastrophic flash floods and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in higher terrain areas,” the Hurricane Center warned.
- Almost the entire island was under a flash flood warning as of 5:00 PM ET.
while, Heavy rain and hurricane-force winds are expected in the eastern regions of the Dominican Republic on Sunday night and Monday.
- Puerto Rico’s power grid, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria in 2017, has faltered, with nearly 1.5 million customers without power as of 7 p.m. ET, according to the Poweroutage.us.
what are they saying: “The damage we see is catastrophic,” Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi said.
What we are watching: The test for utility operators now will be how quickly they can restore power once the storm has passed.
From the note: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists were able to navigate a remotely operated glider drone into the eye of Hurricane Fiona, helping to validate an estimate of its intensity.
- Flash floods of 1 meter to 3 feet above normally dry land are expected along Puerto Rico’s southern coast on Saturday, provided peak tide reaches high tide.
- The NWS in San Juan issued flash flood warnings throughout Sunday as the rain caused rivers and streams to rise. A video from social media shows torrents of water washing away bridges, power lines and other infrastructure in southwest Puerto Rico.
- The storm previously caused devastating floods after dumping nearly 20 inches of rain on the French island of Guadeloupe late last week.
What’s Next: Fiona’s intensity is expected to continue once it moves northwest of Puerto Rico and north of the Dominican Republic. The storm is expected to slowly turn north by midweek as it moves near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands.
- The storm is expected to become the season’s first “major” Atlantic hurricane of the season, with a Category 3 degree or greater by midweek.
- Most computer models are now taking the storm out to sea east of the US mainland, but it could pose a threat to Bermuda late in the week.
Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story. . Please check back for updates