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Hurricane Fiona Knocks Out Power to All of Puerto Rico, Governor Says

Sept. 18, 2022 Updated Sun., Sept. 18, 2022 at 7:25 p.m.

Hurricane Fiona is just the third this year during the Atlantic hurricane season.  (National Hurricane Center)
Hurricane Fiona is just the third this year during the Atlantic hurricane season. (National Hurricane Center)
By The New York Times

By New York Times

Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico on Sunday, its governor said, as forecasters warned that the storm could bring as much as 2 feet of rain and cause life-threatening floods and landslides.

Nearly 1.5 million customers were without electricity Sunday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks power interruptions.

Because of the hurricane, the power grid was out of service, the governor, Pedro Pierluisi, said on Twitter. “Protocols have been activated based on established plans to address this situation,” he said.

Power company LUMA warned Sunday that full power restoration could take several days.

As the eye of the storm neared Puerto Rico, “significant” flooding had already occurred, and it was likely the rain would continue through Monday morning, said Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center.

“If you’re out and about, it’s time to go home and stay put until this storm passes,” Rhome said during a briefing, adding that roads would be “treacherous.”

Fiona strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane Sunday morning. It comes five years after Hurricane Maria slammed the island as a Category 4 storm, producing as much as 40 inches of rainfall and resulting in the deaths of an estimated 2,975 people.

While still a tropical storm, Fiona brought flooding to Guadeloupe, an island southeast of Puerto Rico, and there was at least one storm-related death in the capital, a government official said Saturday.

In Puerto Rico, rainfall totals could reach 12 to 16 inches, with local maximum totals of 25 inches, particularly across eastern and southern Puerto Rico, forecasters said.

The rain threatened to cause not only flash flooding across Puerto Rico and portions of the eastern Dominican Republic but also mudslides and landslides, forecasters said.

Fiona had winds of about 85 mph and prompted hurricane warnings for Puerto Rico and the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, the center said.

President Joe Biden on Sunday approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, which authorizes federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Heavy rains from Fiona will continue into Sunday night in Puerto Rico, forecasters said.

The storm is expected to strengthen Monday and Tuesday as it moves near the Dominican Republic and over the southwestern Atlantic, before it could possibly effect the Bahamas, the Hurricane Center said.

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