- Tropical Storm Fiona has reached the Leeward Islands.
- It will produce flooding rain and strong wind tastes, there.
- It may do the same in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands this weekend.
- Fiona could become a hurricane before arriving near the Dominican Republic Sunday night or Monday.
- It’s far too soon to tell if this system will ever become a mainland US threat.
Tropical Storm Fiona has arrived in the northern Caribbean islands, where it could produce flooding rainfall and strong wind gusts this weekend in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands before becoming a hurricane next week.
Here’s what we know about Fiona’s threats to the Caribbean and what the storm could mean down the road for the mainland United States.
Latest Status And Forecast
Fiona’s center is moving into Guadeloupe, a group of islands about 350 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tropical storm-force conditions are now moving into the northern Leeward islands.
The storm is fighting some unfavorable upper-level winds (wind shear) and dry air, which is preventing it from strengthening.
The worst of the rain and gusty winds will arrive on the islands, including Guadeloupe, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, after the center enters the Caribbean since most of the thunderstorm activity is being blown eastward.
On this track, Fiona will move near or just south of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend, then into Hispaniola Sunday night or Monday. Some intensification is possible this weekend before Fiona reaches Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), possibly as a hurricane.
After that, uncertainty grows because of that possible land interaction, but some intensification is expected once Fiona reaches the waters north of Hispaniola.
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy and St Martin. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning area within 36 hours. In the southern Leeward Islands, this wind has moved in.
Tropical storm watches have been issued for eastern portions of Hispaniola and Dominica. This means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.
Areas from the Leeward Islands to Puerto Rico to eastern Hispaniola to the Turks and Caicos could see rain totals of 3 to 10 inches (locally higher) from Fiona. That heavy rain could trigger dangerous flooding and mudslides this weekend into early next week, particularly over mountainous terrain.
Some modest storm surge is possible on east and south-facing shores is possible this weekend in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hispaniola. In addition, rip currents and rough surf are likely.
Is Fiona A Mainland US Threat?
The bottom line is that the mainland US, especially from Florida to the rest of the Southeast coast, should just monitor the forecast for now since it’s too soon to tell if Fiona will eventually become a threat.
That’s because Fiona faces the obstacles mentioned earlier, including wind shear, dry air and potential track over some mountainous Caribbean islands such as Hispaniola.
Among the wide range of possibilities include:
-Intensifying sooner, and therefore curling north into the central Atlantic Ocean far off the US East Coast, similar to Hurricane Earl last week.
-Minimal strengthening in the next several days, continuing west to west-northwest, then curling north later, much closer to or over the Bahamas and possibly the Southeast US later next week.
For now, the National Hurricane Center forecast calls for Fiona to gain some strength by early next week, which would allow it to make a gradual northward turn near Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos.
However, as frequently happens in hurricane season, this forecast may change. Check back with us at weather.com for the latest updates to this forecast in the days ahead.
Regardless of what happens, now is a good time to make sure you have a plan in place before a hurricane strikes. Information about hurricane preparedness can be found here.
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12 Things You May Not Know About Your Hurricane Forecast
7 Things Florida Newcomers Should Know About Hurricane Season
The Florida Peninsula’s Luck Since Hurricane Irma Won’t Last
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.