Hurricane Fiona
Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

Travel Alert September 2022: Hurricane Fiona Impacts Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic

The Bahamas are next — and then...

If Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the southeastern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands are in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — due to Hurricane Fiona, whose first landfall occurred in Guadeloupe as a strong tropical storm on the evening of Friday, September 16, 2022 and at least a second landfall is imminent.

Travel Alert September 2022: Hurricane Fiona Impacts Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic

Hurricane Fiona
Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of this tropical storm system — which is currently centered approximately 25 miles southwest of Ponce in Puerto Rico and is moving west northwest at eight miles per hour — are 85 miles per hour, which means that it is classified as a Category 1 hurricane.

Even if a direct landfall does not occur on either western Puerto Rico or eastern Dominican Republic, hurricane conditions — including wind gusts exceeding 80 miles per hour at times — will adversely affect these areas. Electric power will likely be unavailable.

One reason why Hurricane Fiona became a hurricane sooner than was originally forecast is because of the warm temperature of the water in the Caribbean Sea, which was basically undisturbed by other tropical storm systems this year. Tropical storms and hurricanes draw their energy from warm water, which cools once the tropical system moves on. Because no named storms formed in the Atlantic Basin in August of 2022 — which is extremely rare — the temperature of the water did not cool.

Hurricane Fiona is expected to strengthen to a major hurricane after passing the southeastern Bahama islands as it turns out towards the Atlantic Ocean and heads towards Bermuda, which could be affected by this storm as soon as the evening of Thursday, September 22, 2022.

In terms of precipitation which is forecast as a result of this hurricane, as much as:

    • 25 inches of rain could fall in eastern and southern portions of Puerto Rico
    • Twelve inches of rain could fall in eastern and northern portions of the Dominican Republic — especially along the northern coast
    • Ten inches of rain could fall in the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands
    • Six inches of rain in the Turks and Caicos Islands
    • Three inches for Haiti and the remainder of the Dominican Republic

Catastrophic flash flooding is likely to occur with little to no warning in the aforementioned areas with the most rainfall — and to complicate matters further, a storm surge of up to three feet along the coast of the Dominican Republic, the southern coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra could exacerbate flooding conditions.

The surf in many areas of the eastern Caribbean islands could be rough enough to threaten the lives of unsuspecting swimmers — especially with strong rip currents.

Official Warnings and Watches

The following official warnings were issued by the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States:

  • A hurricane warning is currently in effect for:
    • Puerto Rico — including Vieques and Culebra
    • The coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo
  • A hurricane watch is currently in effect for:
    • North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata
  • A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for:
    • United States Virgin Islands
    • British Virgin Islands
    • North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata
  • A tropical storm watch is currently in effect for:
    • South coast of the Dominican Republic west of Cabo Caucedo to Barahona
    • Turks and Caicos Islands
    • Southeastern Bahamas — including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to, from, or within Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the southeastern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are eight airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this tropical weather system:

Final Boarding Call

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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