Hurricane Fiona battered the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday with sustained winds of 185 kilometers an hour and torrential rains.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the Category 3 storm is likely to strengthen even more over warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean as it moves northward and warned that it could approach Bermuda by late Thursday.
Late Tuesday morning, the hurricane agency said the storm was centered about 65 kilometers northwest of Grand Turk Island and headed northwestward at 15 kilometers an hour.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 kilometers from the storm’s eye, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 240 kilometers.
The storm dumped devastating amounts of rain on the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico — nearly 90 centimeters — and 50 centimeters on the Dominican Republic before heading to Turks and Caicos.
“Heavy rainfall and localized life-threatening flash flooding” are continuing over portions of the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, the hurricane agency said, while “localized additional flash and urban flooding is possible in Puerto Rico.”
The hurricane center said storm surges in Turks and Caicos could be more than 2 meters above normal tide levels, and normally dry areas near the coast could be flooded.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said, “The damage to infrastructure, urban areas and residences has been catastrophic.”
He said many areas were dealing with worse flooding than in 2017 when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.
The National Guard rescued more than 900 people from floodwaters spawned by Fiona, and there were reports of multiple mudslides.
At least two deaths have been reported, and many people were left without water service in Puerto Rico. Authorities said electricity had been restored to more than 114,000 people by Monday night after the storm knocked out power across the island.
In the Dominican Republic, the storm prompted closures at ports and beaches, and authorities told most people to stay home from work.
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press.