Puerto Rico Loses Electricity As Hurricane Fiona Looms Off Coast


Tropical Storm Fiona strengthened to hurricane status on Sunday while approaching the island of Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said, causing a total blackout on the island as forecasters warn the storm could bring up to 25 inches of rainfall and dangerous mudslides.

Key Facts

Maximum sustained winds increased to nearly 85 miles per hour as the storm moved toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, with hurricane warnings in effect for all of Puerto Rico and the coast of the Dominican Republic.

Some 1.46 million people were without power as of Sunday afternoon, according to tracking service poweroutage.us, comprising all customers tracked on the island, while Puerto Rico’s Governor Pedro Pierluisi also confirmed the outage in a tweet.

The hurricane was about 25 miles southwest of the southern Puerto Rico city of Ponce as of 2 p.m. Sunday, and it is progressing west-northwest at a speed of roughly eight miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane is expected to move near or over Puerto Rico Sunday afternoon or evening and then toward the northern coast of the Dominican Republic Sunday night and Monday, the National Hurricane Center said.

President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Puerto Rico on Sunday, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to organize disaster relief efforts and offer emergency assistance measures.

Fiona caused some 17 inches of rainfall on the French Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe, leaving one person dead Saturday and flooding several other Caribbean islands as well.

What To Watch For

Fiona is expected to move northeast and steer away from the East Coast, potentially heading toward the island of Bermuda at hurricane strength, according to the Weather Channel.

Key Background

Puerto Rico’s power grid is still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, which touched down on the island as a Category 4 storm that killed nearly 3,000 people and brought extreme damage and destruction. Fiona is the third hurricane and sixth named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Danielle weakened to a tropical storm as it moved across the Atlantic in early September, while Hurricane Earl steered clear of Bermuda but caused dangerous rip currents near the island and some parts of the East Coast earlier this month.


If Fiona hits Puerto Rico, it will be the first named Atlantic storm to make landfall since July and the first hurricane to hit land in the U.S. this year, during an uncharacteristically calm hurricane season. August marked the first time in 25 years without a single hurricane or tropical storm in the Atlantic, a significant shift from earlier forecasts that predicted the 2022 hurricane season would be unusually severe.

Big Number

$90 billion. That’s how much damage Hurricane Maria caused to the island of Puerto Rico.

Further Reading

Tropical Storm Fiona Strengthening as It Nears Puerto Rico (New York Times)

Biden declares emergency for Puerto Rico due to Tropical Storm Fiona (Reuters)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/madelinehalpert/2022/09/18/puerto-rico-loses-electricity-as-hurricane-fiona-looms-off-coast/