- Tropical storm warnings have been issued for several Caribbean islands.
- Fiona became the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season after forming Wednesday night.
- Rainfall of 4 to 6 inches is likely in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by the weekend.
- Forecasters say it’s still unclear if the storm will impact the United States
Tropical Storm Fiona continued to cross the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday and forecasts show it is targeting Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, threatening heavy rain, wind and choppy waves 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 zone within 36 hours, or in this case by Friday evening.
Tropical storm watches were issued Thursday afternoon for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which means tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area, usually within 48 hours, the Hurricane Center said.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the center of Fiona was located about 385 miles east of the Leeward Islands and was heading west at a speed of 14 mph. Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles, mostly north of the storm’s center, the hurricane center said.
It became the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season on Wednesday evening.
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Fiona brings heavy rain and threat of flooding
Rainfall of 4 to 6 inches is likely in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by the weekend, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches in eastern Puerto Rico. “These rains can produce flash and urban flooding, as well as isolated landslides in areas of higher ground,” according to the hurricane center.
Although Fiona’s winds are expected to strengthen over the next few days to 70 mph, 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 strengthening of the system.
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Ocean swells are expected to begin affecting the northern Leeward Islands by early Friday, causing life-threatening surf and rip currents, the hurricane center said.
Will Fiona have an impact on the United States?
Fiona’s eventual track and strength remain uncertain, forecasters said. Some computer models show the storm curving out to sea while others show it approaching the east coast of the United States, potentially as a hurricane.
AccuWeather forecasters expect Fiona to take a more northerly turn once it reaches the Bahamas due to strong wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico and nearby guiding winds. As such, early indications are that the storm could miss the United States.
However, since any direct interaction from Fiona in the United States is more than a week away, the weather conditions may change, AccuWeather said. “For this reason, interests along the US East Coast and Bermuda should continue to monitor Fiona’s progress,” said Courtney Travis, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.
Contributor: The Associated Press