Puerto Rico braces for landslides and severe flooding as Tropical Storm Fiona approaches

HAVANA (AP) — Tropical Storm Fiona threatened to dump up to 16 inches (41 centimeters) of rain in parts of Puerto Rico on Saturday as forecasters placed U.S. territory under hurricane watch and people prepared for possible landslides, severe flooding and power outages.

The storm was located 145 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of St. Croix on Saturday morning with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). It was moving west at 13 mph (20 km/h) on a planned track to pass near Puerto Rico. Forecasters have warned that Fiona could be near hurricane strength as it passes through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Fiona is expected to pass the Dominican Republic on Sunday as a potential hurricane and Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday and Tuesday with the threat of extreme rainfall.

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Fiona in the Caribbean on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

The forecaster has issued a hurricane watch for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engaño west to Cabo Caucedo and for the northern coast from Cabo Engaño west to Puerto Plata.

In Puerto Rico, authorities have opened shelters and closed public beaches, theaters and museums, urging people to stay indoors.

“Now is the time to activate your emergency plan and reach out and help your loved ones, especially older people who live alone,” said Dr Gloria Amador, who runs a nonprofit health organization in central Puerto Rico.

At least one cruise ship visit and several flights to the island were cancelled, while authorities in the eastern Caribbean islands canceled school and banned people from water sports as Fiona pounded the region.

On the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, authorities said they recorded wind gusts of up to 120 km/h, which would be considered a Category 1 hurricane. They also said 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain fell in three hours in the Gros Morne area.

Fiona, which is the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to bring 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain to eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with up to 16 inches ( 41 centimeters) in isolated places. Rains of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) were forecast for the Dominican Republic, with up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) in places. Life-threatening waves were also possible from Fiona’s winds, forecasters said.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lester in the eastern Pacific was on a projected track that could make landfall near the Acapulco region on the southwest coast of Mexico on Saturday evening.

Lester was expected to remain a tropical storm until it hit the Mexican coast. Forecasters have warned of the potential dangers of heavy rain.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) Friday evening. It was centered 110 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco and was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 km/h).

A tropical storm warning was rising from Puerto Escondido to Zihuatanejo. The hurricane center said Lester could drop 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain on the coasts of Upper Guerrero and Michoacan state, with isolated areas receiving 12 inches (30 centimeters).

The Huffington Gt

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