U.S. weather forecasters say Hurricane Fiona has grown in strength as it continues on a path towards Bermuda.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says Fiona is heading north at 13 kilometers per hour, carrying maximum sustained winds of 210 kilometers per hour, making it a Category 4 storm on the center’s five-level scale that measures a storm’s maximum sustained wind speed and destructive potential.
The NHC says Fiona will reach Bermuda by late Thursday. Forecasters have issued a tropical storm watch for Bermuda.
Fiona battered the British-controlled Turks and Caicos archipelago Tuesday with strong winds and torrential rains. Authorities issued a shelter-in-place order for its 38,000-strong population as the storm struck its main island of Grand Turk. Deputy Governor Anya Williams said Grand Turk and four other islands were experiencing power outages, but that no injuries or deaths had been reported. The NHC predicts Turks and Caicos will receive an additional 2 to 7 centimeters of rain Wednesday.
Fiona hit Turks and Caicos after leaving a path of destruction on Puerto Rico Sunday, dumping nearly 90 centimeters of rain on the U.S. island territory, causing massive flooding and knocking out electricity for millions of residents across the entire island. Authorities said nearly 80% of Puerto Rico remained without power on Tuesday — the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island as a Category 4 storm and destroyed its power grid, which has still not been restored to full service. Nearly a million residents have been left without clean drinking water.
Xavier Becerra, the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico Tuesday, while Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell traveled to the island Tuesday to get a first-hand look at the devastation.
At least two people have died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Fiona, including a 70-year-old man who was burned while he tried to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running.
Two more deaths were reported in the Dominican Republic, where Fiona headed after devastating Puerto Rico. The storm flooded roads and highways, prompted closures at ports and beaches, and authorities told most people to stay home from work. The fatalities included a man killed by a falling tree and an 18-year-old woman struck by a falling electrical post while she was riding a motorcycle.
Another fatality was reported on the French territory of Guadeloupe.
Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.