Hurricane Fiona makes landfall as Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage

Officials have warned that US territory could be drenched by up to 25 inches of rain with winds of around 80mph

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 19 September 2022 00:26 BST
Tropical Storm Fiona to strengthen into Category 2 hurricane
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Hurricane Fiona made landfall along the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico as the island suffered from a complete island-wide power outage.

The hurricane came ashore near Punta Tocon, at 3.20pm ET on Sunday with winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, and has already caused damaging flooding as it heads towards the Dominican Republic.

Earlier Puerto Rico suffered a massive loss of power as Hurricane Fiona took aim at the US territory and started to batter it with “historic” rains and severe winds, which officials say could cause mudslides.

Many rivers on the eastern side of Puerto Rico are now in a state of moderate to major flooding, according to CNN.

One river in the southeast part of the island has now risen more than 12 feet in less than seven hours and is now over 25 feet, breaking the previous record of 24.79 feet set during Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“Puerto Rico is 100% without power due to transmission grid failures caused by Hurricane Fiona,” stated the website on Sunday.

The blackout is impacting the 1.4 million households on the island, while Governor Pedro Pierluisi took to Twitter to confirm the situation and stated that officials have activated the necessary protocols to get the system back up and working.

The storm comes just two days before the fifth anniversary of Category 4 Hurricane Maria in 2017, which killed almost 3,000 people and destroyed the island’s power network.

Forecasters say that isolated areas of the island could receive up to 25 inches of rainfall with winds of up to 80mph when it hits Puerto Rico later on Sunday.

Hurricane Fiona was still 50 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Sunday morning, and was moving northwest at 8mph.

“It’s time to take action and be concerned,” said Nino Correa, Puerto Rico’s emergency management commissioner.

Ahead of Hurricane Fiona’s arrival in Puerto Rico, Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the island. This allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to mobilise equipment and resources in the region.

The hurricane – the third of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season – is bearing down on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, and while the storm may not make “landfall” its impact could still have a serious impact.

“Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours while Fiona moves near Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and over the southwestern Atlantic,” the National Hurricane Center said.

“Hurricane conditions are expected on Puerto Rico today, and are expected in portions of the eastern Dominican Republic tonight and Monday.”

Rainfall of 12 to 16 inches will be seen across large parts of the island, with higher rainfall expected in southern areas.

“These rains will produce life-threatening flash flooding and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the NHC said.

Fiona became a tropical storm over the Atlantic on Wednesday and entered the eastern Caribbean on Friday.

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