An eerily quiet 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season began to show its might yesterday, when Hurricane Fiona, a a Category 1 storm, with winds 85 miles per hour, slammed into Puerto Rico. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm made landfall around 3:20 p.m. EST on Sunday near Punta Tocon.
“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Governor Pedro Pierluisi via The Associated Press.
Just after 2 p.m., before the storm even made landfall, power was out for the entire island. About 1.3 million residents were impacted. Power restored for about 100,000 overnight according to LUMA Energy, Puerto Rico’s main power supplier. LUMA warned that full power restoration in Puerto Rico could take several days, with the storm creating “incredibly challenging” conditions for repair workers. “
The current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hampering our ability to fully assess the situation,” according to LUMA’s website. This is the second island-wide power outage in less than six months and Puerto Rico has struggled with an unreliable power grid for years.
The National Hurricane center reported 12-18 inches of rainfall with a local maximum of 30 inches particularly across eastern and southern Puerto Rico.
Several large landslides have been reported across Puerto Rico and a temporary bridge built after Hurricane Maria washed away in the central town of Utuado. Lee-Ann Ingles-Serrano, a National Weather Service Meteorologist in San Juan, said the island is likely to see heavy showers today, with several more inches of rain likely. “It will not be comparable to what we had yesterday, but it will be enough to exacerbate the problems that we have in some parts of the island,” she said this morning.
Fiona is the third hurricane of the season and is forecast to become a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) in roughly 48 hours, east of the Bahamas. It hits Puerto Rico on the the 33rd anniversary anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit as a Category 3 storm.
It is also hitting only two days before the fifth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Maria. The Category 5 storm was the deadliest disaster on American soil in 100 years, due in part to the response by the Trump administration and a centuries long history of colonialism. Nearly 3,000 people died, while island didn’t have full power for almost a year, after the climate change fueled storm dropped more than 150 inches of rain.
The hurricane made landfall in the Dominican Republic this morning. Throughout the day, the northern and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic could also see 4-8 inches of rainfall, with a local maximum of 12 inches possible, before tracking northwestward into the western Atlantic Ocean. Fiona’s eye wall is expected to pass over part of the Turks and Caicos Islands early this week and the NHC forecasts that the storm will strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane by midweek.
For most of today, the storm will continue to wreck havoc on Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
“These rains will produce life-threatening and catastrophic flash and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the hurricane center tweeted .