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Storm Fiona poses threat for Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Fiona passed near Guadeloupe on Friday evening, hitting some of the Caribbean’s easternmost islands with strong rain and wind as forecasters warned the storm could later threaten Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with dangerous rains.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fiona was then likely to become a hurricane near the Bahamas next week.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lester in the eastern Pacific was on a projected path that could bring landfall near the Acapulco area on Mexico’s southwestern coast Saturday.

The center said Fiona would pass into the eastern Caribbean during Friday night and would then slow its forward movement. It was predicted to be close to Puerto Rico late Saturday and then cross over the Dominican Republic on Monday.

The forecast called for rainfall totals of as much as a foot (30 centimeters) in places across eastern and southern Puerto Rico and 16 inches (41 centimeters) in the eastern Dominican Republic. That much rain could cause flash floods and mudslides in higher terrain, and life-threatening surf was possible from Fiona’s winds, the hurricane center said.

The Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm had maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph (85 kph) late Friday afternoon, the center said. Little change in strength was expected during the next few days.

Fiona was moving westward at 15 mph (24 kph), and was centered about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northwest of Guadeloupe. Tropical storm warnings were in effect for most of the Leeward Islands.

In the Pacific, Lester was expected to remain a tropical storm until hitting the Mexican coast Saturday, but forecasters warned of potential dangers from heavy rains.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) early Friday evening. It was centered 215 miles (345 kilometers) southeast of Acapulco and moving moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

A tropical storm warning was up from Puerto Escondido to Zihuatanejo. The hurricane center said Lester could drop from 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of rain on the coasts of upper Guerrero state and Michoacan state, with isolated areas getting 16 inches (41 centimeters).

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