Fiona becomes strongest Atlantic hurricane in 2022, threatening Bahamas, Bermuda


Hurricane Fiona has intensified to become the strongest Atlantic storm this year, as it sweeps across the Bahamas later this week to threaten Bermuda and eastern Canada.

Fiona’s winds have grown to 130 miles (209 kilometers) per hour, according to a recommendation from the U.S. National Hurricane Center at 8 a.m. That’s over 85 mph when the storm cut power over Puerto Rico on Sunday. Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane on the five-stage Saffir-Simpson scale, is expected to become even more powerful as it approaches Bermuda.

The storm’s most intense winds are likely to stay west of Bermuda, which has a solid building code and should be able to withstand Fiona, said Adam Douty, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch have been issued for the island.

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“The big story from here is going to be Canada, as far as Fiona is concerned,” Douty said. “It looks likely to be a contender for the strongest storm” to hit this region.

Fiona will approach Nova Scotia as a deadly Category 3 storm but will likely lose strength and may even transition from a tropical system as it approaches the shoreline. However, Douty said it will still have the strength of a Category 2 hurricane and because so many trees still have leaves in Atlantic Canada, it could cause “widespread power outages” as they add stress to the branches.

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Wind gusts of 100 km/h can rake over the area. In addition, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, will experience heavy rainfall.

Fiona has already left a trail of destruction. It knocked out all of Puerto Rico on Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane, leaving 3.1 million people in limbo, then causing massive flooding there and in the Dominican Republic.

Fiona likely caused $3 billion to $4 billion in economic losses in Puerto Rico, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research, wrote in his blog. The damage in the Dominican Republic could amount to 2 billion dollars.

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As Fiona threatens Atlantic Canada, a second whirl of thunderstorms and showers approaching the eastern Caribbean could become the eighth storm of the season this weekend, potentially threatening the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Douty said current models keep the storm out of the energy-rich western Gulf, but it could become an important system for Florida.

And Tropical Storm Gaston is swirling in the central Atlantic near the Azores, but poses no significant threat to the country. There are two other potential storms near Africa with a slim chance of strengthening.

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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