Wind speeds of 85mph and “historic” rains were felt as the tropical storm made landfall on Puerto Rico’s eastern shores on Sunday, where many rivers are now heavily flooded and at least one road bridge was swept away.
As of Monday morning, more than 1.3 million homes were still without power as conditions remained too dangerous for repairs across large swaths of the island. Power company LUMA warned that it could take several days for full power resoration.
The storm made landfall early Monday in the Dominican Republic and is on track to brush past the southeast Bahamas, as well as Turks and Caicos into Tuesday.
Overnight, US President Joe Biden issued an emergency disaster declaration to speed-up the relief process for the island, which was days away from marking the fifth anniversary of another powerful hurricane that caused thousands of deaths and the collapse of vital energy infrastructure in 2017.
Caribbean damage being assessed
Hurricane Fiona has devastated some of the smaller islands in the eastern Caribbean as well as Puerto Rico. French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he’s recognized a “state of natural disaster” on the island of Guadeloupe, a French overseas region.
Power company LUMA says that some areas are starting to be “re-energized” after the entire island of Puerto Rico lost power in the storm.
100,000 people have had power restored as of this morning, according to a tweet from LUMA – but a lot more work remains to be done, after 1.3 million customers in total lost power.
Fiona hitting Dominican Republic now
Hurricane Fiona has made landfall in the Dominican Republic, with additional devastation expected on that island.
Up to 15 total inches (38 centimetres) of rain are forecast in parts of the island, with three- to five-foot storm surges and hurricane-force winds.
President Biden offers thoughts for Puerto Rico
President Joe Biden, who today is in the UK for the Queen’s funeral, shared thoughts for Puerto Rico on Twitter.
The rain is still coming in Puerto Rico
The rainfall has not stopped in Puerto Rico, and is forecast to continue throughout the day on Monday.
Even as vast sections of the island go without power and flooding takes down infrastructure, more rainfall could cause additional damage as the tail end of the storm powers through.
A Flash Flood Watch is in effect until Monday evening, with the National Weather Service warning that “rainfall is likely to cause life-threatening to catastrophic flooding.”
Hurricanes are going to stronger as the planet heats up
A hotter planet is going to mean stronger hurricanes.
Warm air and warm ocean waters can supercharge cyclones as they head toward land, powering up wind speeds and adding a lot more water into the clouds – bringing intense devastation when they hit land.
A UN climate science panel has found that the percentage of storms that reach Category 3 or higher has increased over the past forty years.
Governor to give updates on Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi is giving updates on the island’s situation as Hurricane Fiona sweeps over the island
Fiona brings back memories of Maria
Nearly exactly five years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona is bringing another round of destruction.
Maria left vast areas of the country without power or running water for weeks, and nearly 3,000 people dead.
Hurricane Fiona has again wiped out power across much of the country as devastating rains bring floods.
The rainfall is ongoing and the full extent of the damage has yet to be assessed.
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