Hurricane Fiona moved northwest into the Atlantic on Monday afternoon after hitting the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic in the morning and cutting power over Puerto Rico on Sunday, causing what the governor there called “catastrophic” damage.
More than 1.3 million utilities in Puerto Rico were still without electricity as of Monday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks power outages. Puerto Rico’s energy company, LUMA, said it had powered about 100,000 customers but warned that full recovery could take several days.
As the storm moved out to sea, rain from Fiona’s outer bands continued to pelt the island and was expected to be heavy enough to cause what the National Weather Service called “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding” until Monday evening.
The Weather Service warned that tropical storms are possible in the northern and eastern regions of the Dominican Republic until Monday evening. Early Tuesday, tropical storm conditions were possible in parts of the southeastern Bahamas.
Fiona is expected to continue moving northwest before shifting north-northwest, past the Turks and Caicos Islands or east on Tuesday. The storm is expected to strengthen in the coming days and become a major hurricane — meaning a Category 3 or higher — by Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi urged residents to stay home and said in a news conference Monday that the island had received more than 12 inches of rain — more than had fallen during Hurricane Maria five years ago, he said. .
He added that 30 rescue operations have been carried out, rescuing more than 1,000 stranded residents in 25 municipalities.
The storm was blamed for at least one death in Puerto Rico, where a man died while trying to run a generator, government officials said. The man’s wife was also badly burned, but survived, officials said. Another death was attributed to the storm in Guadeloupe, which Saturday hit by the storm. No deaths were immediately reported in the Dominican Republic.
“We are going through a difficult moment, but our people are strong,” said Mr. Pierluisi in Spanish at the press conference.
The storm made landfall in the Dominican Republic, meaning the eye of the storm crossed the coastline, near Boca de Yuma on Monday at 3:30 a.m.
The eastern provinces of the republic, home to one of the largest tourism industries in the Caribbean, were hit the hardest. Fiona brought 90 mph winds and heavy rain that caused mudslides, shuttered resorts and damaged highways, officials said.
The strength of the hurricane “exceeded our expectations,” said Ernesto Veloz, president of the Eastern Hotel Association, which represents resorts in the area.
A hurricane warning was in effect Monday afternoon for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo. The north coast, from Cabo Frances Viejo west to Puerto Plata, was under hurricane watch.
When asked what went wrong with Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, Jaclyn Rothenberg, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Sunday that the agency’s priority was to meet immediate needs, and diagnose what went wrong. had gone, should come later.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which usually runs roughly from June to November, got off to a relatively calm start, with only three named storms before September 1 and none in August, the first time this has happened since 1997. Storm activity increased in early September with Danielle and Earl, who formed within a day of each other.
The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming clearer every year. Data shows that hurricanes have become stronger worldwide over the past four decades. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms – although the total number of storms may drop as factors such as stronger wind shear can prevent weaker storms from forming.
Hurricanes also get wetter because there is more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have had without human effects on climate, scientists have suggested. Also, rising sea levels contribute to higher storm surges, the most destructive elements of tropical cyclones.
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