Category 4 Hurricane Fiona eyes Bermuda as life-threatening swells spread toward US East Coast
Hurricane Fiona is expected to make its closest approach to Bermuda on Friday, prompting the issuance of a Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch for the British island territory.
At last report, Fiona was a Category 4 hurricane in the southwestern Atlantic with maximum sustained winds around 130 mph.
Fiona battered the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday as high winds and heavy rain spread across the islands after the hurricane had already turned deadly in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
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Fiona made two landfalls as a Category 1 hurricane, the first one Sunday afternoon along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico and the second one early Monday morning in the eastern Dominican Republic.
In Puerto Rico, the city of Ponce clocked a 103-mph wind gust, while in the Dominican Republic, a gust of 98 mph was recorded in Samana at El Catey International Airport. The high winds plunged all of Puerto Rico into a blackout on Sunday as catastrophic flooding unfolded across the U.S. territory.
HURRICANE FIONA LEAVES TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS PUERTO RICO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Hurricane Fiona made its first landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico on Sunday, Sept. 18, followed by a second landfall in the eastern Dominican Republic on Monday, Sept. 19. (FOX Weather)
Where is Hurricane Fiona?
As of Wednesday evening, the major hurricane was centered less than 600 miles southwest of Bermuda. Fiona is moving northward at 9 mph.
Any hurricane that is rated Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is classified as a major hurricane.
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Tracking Hurricane Fiona.(FOX Weather)
Where are watches and warnings in effect?
Bermuda has been placed under a Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning.
A Hurricane Watch means sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible within the watch area and is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds (39-plus mph). These high winds are likely to be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding and/or river flooding.
A Tropical Storm Warning means winds sustained at 39 to 73 mph are expected within the warning area within 36 hours.
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A Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for Bermuda. (FOX Weather)
What is the forecast for Hurricane Fiona?
Hurricane Fiona is forecast to remain a powerful Category 4 hurricane into Friday as it moves toward the north or north-northeast.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, Hurricane Fiona could approach Bermuda from late Thursday into early Friday, although the center of the hurricane is predicted to remain west of the archipelago. Damaging winds and 2 to 4 inches of rain can be expected in Bermuda.
Fiona is forecast to continue north or north-northeastward beyond its close brush with Bermuda and threaten the Canadian Maritimes from late Friday into the weekend.
Computer forecast models suggest Fiona could remain a strong storm system despite moving over cooler waters. The FOX Forecast Center warned hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph), significant storm surge and heavy rainfall are possible this weekend.
Between 3 and 6 inches of rain, with localized amounts up to 10 inches, is possible in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland.
The projected path and intensity of Hurricane Fiona. (FOX Weather)
What are the impacts to the US East Coast?
Even though Hurricane Fiona will stay hundreds of miles east of the U.S. East Coast, its indirect impacts will be felt along the Atlantic beaches from Florida to Maine.
Swells from the Category 4 hurricane are expected to arrive at some beaches on Wednesday and intensify through the end of the workweek.
The rough waters will increase the risk of life-threatening rip currents along beaches, and lifeguards caution less-skilled swimmers to never venture into the rough waters.
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Forecast wave heights off the U.S. East Coast. (FOX Weather)
Elsewhere in the Atlantic
Four other systems are also being tracked in the Atlantic right now, including Tropical Storm Gaston in the central Atlantic, Invest 98L off the coast of South America – which could become tropical depression in the coming days – and two other tropical disturbances near or off the coast of western Africa.
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An overview of the tropics in the Atlantic Basin. (FOX Weather)