- Tropical storm warnings have been issued for several Caribbean islands.
- Fiona became the sixth storm of the Atlantic hurricane season after forming Wednesday night.
- By the weekend, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will see precipitation of 4 to 6 inches.
- Forecasters say it’s still unclear whether the storm will hit the US
Tropical Storm Fiona continued to move across the Atlantic on Thursday, and forecasts show it is targeting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, bringing heavy rain, wind and rough surf this weekend, the National Hurricane Center said.
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for several Caribbean islands, including Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and St. Maarten. According to Weather.com, tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning area within 36 hours, or in this case by Friday evening.
At 2 p.m. Thursday, the center of Fiona was about 765 miles east of the Leeward Islands and was heading west at a speed of 23 mph. Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward as far as 140 miles, mainly north of the storm’s center, the hurricane center said.
It became the sixth storm of the Atlantic hurricane season on Wednesday evening.
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Fiona brings heavy rain, flood risk
By the weekend, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are likely to see precipitation of 4 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches in eastern Puerto Rico. “These rains can cause flash flooding and urban flooding, along with isolated mudslides in higher elevations,” the Hurricane Center said.
While Fiona’s winds are expected to increase to 70 mph in the coming days, current forecasts keep it just below hurricane strength of 74 mph. Wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico and the southwest Atlantic could limit the system’s strengthening.
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Ocean swells should begin to affect the northern Leeward Islands by early Friday, triggering life-threatening surf and rip currents, the hurricane center said.
Will Fiona affect the US?
Fiona’s ultimate track and strength remain uncertain, forecasters say. Some computer models show the storm deflecting out to sea, while others show it moving closer to the US East Coast, possibly like a hurricane.
AccuWeather forecasters expect Fiona to turn more north once it reaches the Bahamas due to strong wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico and nearby steering winds. As such, the first indications are that the storm could miss the United States.
However, since any direct interaction from Fiona in the US is more than a week away, weather patterns may be shifting, AccuWeather said. “For this reason, interests along the US East Coast and Bermuda must continue to monitor Fiona’s progress,” said Courtney Travis, AccuWeather’s senior meteorologist.
Contributions: The The Bharat Express News