Puerto Rico under hurricane warning as Tropical Storm Fiona approaches

Tropical Storm Fiona headed toward Puerto Rico on Saturday, with forecasters warning that it would strengthen into a hurricane before hitting heavy rains on Sunday that could cause landslides, severe flooding and power outages. There is a possibility of

The storm had already battered several eastern Caribbean islands, with one fatality in the French territory of Guadeloupe. Regional prefect Alexandre Rochet said the body was found on the side of the road after being washed away in a house in the capital of Basse Terre. More than 20 people were rescued amid strong winds and rain that knocked out power to 13,000 customers, ripped up roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

Fiona was about 70 miles (115 km) south of St. Croix on Saturday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 km/h). It was moving west at 9 mph (15 km/h), forecast to pass near or over Puerto Rico on Sunday night. Fiona was expected to strengthen into a hurricane before reaching the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

“We’re already starting to feel the effects,” Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierlosi said at a news conference in which the lights went out briefly as he spoke, prompting groans and laughter across the island. “We should not underestimate this storm.”

Officials said the expected heavy rains would be dangerous because the island’s soil is already saturated.

“We’re not saying the winds aren’t dangerous, but we’re preparing for a historic event in terms of rainfall,” said Ernesto Morales, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Many Puerto Ricans have been plagued by severe power outages since work recently began to rebuild the island’s power grid, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The grid remains fragile and power outages occur daily, with some 37,000 customers already in the dark on Saturday.

Loma, the company that operates the transmission and distribution of electricity on the island, said it had flown in 100 extra line workers ahead of the storm but warned of “significant” outages over the weekend.

Fiona was forecast to pass through the Dominican Republic on Monday as a potential hurricane and then over Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain.

The forecaster posted a hurricane watch for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic along the US Virgin Islands from Cabo Engaño west to Cabo Caucedo and for the north coast from Cabo Engaño west to Puerto Plata.

In Puerto Rico, authorities opened shelters and closed public beaches, casinos, theaters and museums as they urged people to stay indoors. Officials also relocated hundreds of endangered Puerto Rican parrots to their sanctuary.

Dr. Gloria Amador, who runs a nonprofit health organization in central Puerto Rico, said, “It’s time to activate your emergency plan and reach out to your relatives and help them, especially the elderly. live alone.”

Pierluisi said $550 million in emergency funds were available for post-storm relief, as well as enough food to feed 200,000 people three times a day for 20 days.

At least one cruise ship tour and several flights to the island were canceled, while authorities in the eastern Caribbean islands canceled schools and banned people from practicing water sports as Fiona ravaged the region. gave

On Guadeloupe, authorities said they recorded wind gusts of up to 74 mph (120 km/h). He also said 9 inches (23 cm) of rain fell in three hours in the Gros Morne area.

Fiona, the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was forecast to bring 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) of rain to eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with 20 inches in isolated locations. (51 cm) of rain will occur. Rainfall of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) was forecast for the Dominican Republic, with up to 12 inches (30 cm) in places. Forecasters said deadly surf was also possible with Fiona’s winds.

Meanwhile, in the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Lester dissipated after making landfall south of Acapulco on Mexico’s southwest coast on Saturday afternoon.

The cluster of storms was about 95 miles (155 km) east-southeast of Acapulco, with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph (45 km/h) in the late afternoon.

The hurricane center said the remnants of Lester could drop 8 to 12 inches (20 to 31 cm) on the coasts of Upper Guerrero state and Michoacan state, and 16 inches (41 cm) of rain in isolated areas. Is.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Madeleine formed far out in the Pacific, but forecasters predicted it would pose no threat to land as it moved away from Mexico.

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