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340,000 without power in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona approaches island

President Joe Biden has already declared a federal disaster for Puerto Rico, sending aid to the Caribbean island 

Hurricane Fiona tracking map
Hurricane Fiona tracking map | National Weather Service

September 18, 2022 12:28pm

Updated: September 18, 2022 1:43pm

An intensifying Hurricane Fiona is causing massively heavy rains, high winds and power outages throughout the island of Puerto Rico. 

The approaching storm, which as of 11 a.m. was 50 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico, has evolved from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane winds at 80 mph, an increase of 10 mph since 8 a.m. The storm’s powerful winds are already knocking out parts of the island’s power grid leaving 340,000 without electricity, according to Poweroutage.us.

The island’s grid was severely damaged in 2017 from Hurricane Maria. As a result, utility operators will be in a race against time to turn power back on after the storm moves on.

Meteorologists are predicting the approaching storm will cause torrential rains in Puerto Rico into Monday, with 12 to 16 inches of rain. Higher amounts of rainfall are expected on different areas of the island, particularly in the mountains, where reports indicate up to 25 inches could fall.

The Hurricane Center says such rainfall could result in “life-threatening” mudslides and flash flooding, while Puerto Rico’s National Weather Service office says city flooding in San Juan could reach dangerous levels. The south shore of Puerto Rico on Saturday endured storm surge flooding of one to three feet above dry land.

As a result of the expected impact, President Joe Biden has preemptively declared a federal disaster for the island, sending aid to Puerto Rico. 

But Puerto Rico isn’t the only island in the Caribbean expected to be effected.

The Hurricane Center says hurricane force winds and heavy rains are also going to pound eastern areas of the Dominican Republic Sunday night and Monday morning.

The storm already resulted in flood damage with nearly 20 inches of rain on the French island of Guadeloupe last week, and it could reach the Atlantic based British island of Bermuda later this week.