Former Tropical Storm Fiona was today upgraded to Hurricane Fiona, with the eye of the storm making landfall over the island’s extreme southwest on Sunday afternoon. There, it is predicted to wreak havoc over the next 48 hours, causing “life-threatening to catastrophic flooding”, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan, along with mudslides, rockfalls and power outages.
In the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), airlines have canceled all September 18 flights into both USVI airports—Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix and Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. Both airports will be closed through at least 12:00 p.m. on Monday, September 19, the USVI Tourism Department announced on Sunday.
The U.S. Coast Guard had already closed down all USVI seaports, starting at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, September 16, and they will remain closed until further notice
Fiona is presently moving northwest over Puerto Rico, with areas of the storm also hitting the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, where it’s anticipated that the hurricane will have similar, potentially disastrous impacts through Monday.
The USVI is already being swept over by the hurricane’s outer rainbands, wind speeds are reaching 45 mph with gusts up to 75 mph, and up to six inches of rain are expected to fall across the islands.
“The National Weather Service has lifted its Hurricane Watch advisory for the U.S. Virgin Islands; however, the Territory remains under a Tropical Storm Warning and flashflood watch as Fiona, which has strengthened to a hurricane, continues its westward track toward Puerto Rico,” USVI’s official tourism website wrote in an advisory this afternoon.
“While there has been no damage or devastation reported on the islands, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is urging residents to stay home as the storm continues,” according to the notice. “Visitors are encouraged to exercise caution and check with airlines, hotels, car rental companies, tour operators, etc. to determine what actions they plan to take or what policies the businesses have in place.”
Joseph Boschulte, USVI Commissioner of Tourism, said, “As the Department of Tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands, our utmost priority is the safety and comfort of our residents and visitors. We advise all to take the proper precautions and remain indoors. We send our warmest thoughts and prayers to our sister islands of Puerto Rico and the BVI.”
“On the forecast track, the center of Fiona will move near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Monday, and near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) wrote in an advisory issued Sunday.
Fiona’s trajectory is expected to turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday. A tropical storm warning is therefore also in effect for the nearby British Virgin Islands (BVI), Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana and the Ragged Islands.
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