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Fiona strengthens to Category 3, becomes 1st major hurricane of season


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After making landfall in Puerto Rico over the weekend, Hurricane Fiona strengthened into a Category 3 storm Tuesday and became the first major hurricane of the season, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 8 a.m., Fiona was centered about 10 miles northwest of Grand Turk Island with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. The storm was moving north-northwest at 10 mph with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 30 miles from the storm’s center. It is currently bringing hurricane conditions to the Turks and Caicos, according to the NHC.

The forecast track shows Fiona passing near Grand Turk and other parts of Turks and Caicos o Tuesday morning before it turns toward the north Tuesday night or Wednesday and heads toward Bermuda and Canada. It may strengthen into a Category 4 storm by Wednesday.

Puerto Rico saw more than 2 feet of rain over the weekend, and the entire island lost power. The storm has been blamed for two deaths in Puerto Rico, one death in the Dominican Republic and another in the French territory of Guadeloupe, according to reports.

In Puerto Rico, police say one of the deaths was a 58-year-old man who was swept away by a river in the central mountain town of Comerio. Another death was linked to a power blackout, during which a 70-year-old man was burned to death after he tried to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running, officials said.

The blow from Fiona was made more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which destroyed its power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarps.

National Guard Brig. Gen. Narciso Cruz said 670 people have been rescued in Puerto Rico, including 19 people at a retirement home that was in danger of collapsing.

The NHC said Fiona will continue to dump heavy rain over portions of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas over the next 24 hours.

The hurricane center said “life-threatening flash flooding” was still occurring in parts of the Dominican Republic, and that additional flash and urban flooding was possible in southern portions of Puerto Rico. Localized coastal flooding is possible for the Southeastern Bahamas.

A hurricane warning is in effect for:

A tropical storm warning is in effect for:

  • Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands

Fiona is not expected to threaten the U.S. mainland or bring rain or heavy winds to the U.S., but swells generated by the storm will continue to spread across the Atlantic and “could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” along the coast, forecasters said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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