Hurricane Fiona Roars Into a Category 2 Storm Packing 100 MPH Winds

Hurricane Fiona now has sustained winds of 100 mph and has been upgraded to a Category 2 storm as it continues churning over Dominican Republic. Fiona became a Category 1 storm just Sunday as it passed over Puerto Rico.

The National Hurricane Center during its 5 p.m. update Monday afternoon stated heavy rains continue to drench the islands as wind speeds have reached triple digits. Fiona is expected to stay atop Hispaniola through the night, then take a sharp turn northward. The next advisory by NHC will be at 8 p.m. ET on Monday.

Fiona is expected to continue gaining wind strength as it moves across warm Atlantic waters, perhaps getting stronger than 110 mph, which would make it a Category 3, or major hurricane status.

The hurricane center in a statement said flooding across Puerto Rico and the mountainous Dominican Republic could be “life-threatening” and “catastrophic.” It also warned of potential “dangerous mudslides.”

Hurricane Fiona
A youth rides his bycicle at the seaside in Nagua, Dominican Republic, on September 19, 2022, as Hurricane Fiona passes through the country. Hurricane Fiona made landfall along the coast of the Dominican Republic on Monday, the National Hurricane Center said, after the storm tore through Puerto Rico.
Photo by ERIKA SANTELICES/afp/AFP via Getty Images

Hurricane Fiona blasted Puerto Rico with flooding and island-wide blackouts on Sunday, and the Category 1 storm churned westward toward Hispaniola into Monday. Every home and most businesses in Puerto Rico were left without power after Fiona traversed the island Sunday.

President Joe Biden on Monday morning tweeted well wishes to Puerto Ricans.

“Jill and I are keeping the people of Puerto Rico in our prayers as Hurricane Fiona passes over your beautiful island. We are here for you, and we will get through this together,” the president stated.

Biden today also declared an Emergency Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico to ensure the full force of the Federal government.

“We have hundreds of personnel on the ground and ask that you heed the warnings of state and local officials,” Biden tweeted.

What’s next for Fiona?

The National Hurricane Center forecasts Hurricane Fiona to take a sharp right turn and gain strength as it drives north toward Bermuda. The storm has a projected cone path that goes parallel to the U.S. East Coast, with no prediction of a landfall on the U.S. mainland. The storm will likely lose strength as it gallops into cooler waters of the north Atlantic, where it will likely dissipate at sea.

As storms move over warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, they usually become more powerful. Once they reach wind speeds of 74 mph, that’s when it becomes a Category 1 hurricane. It becomes a Category 2 hurricane at 96 mph. It becomes a major hurricane at 110 mph, or a Category 3.

Even if they don’t reach winds high enough to become hurricanes, these storms can still dump rainfalls that can cause life-threatening floods.

The 2022 tropical season has been very weak so far, with no hurricanes hitting the U.S. so far. There are two more systems churning in the Atlantic basin that have potential to become tropical storms or hurricanes. One is due east of Florida about 1,000 miles, and that geographical location has a history of fizzling.

The other system is just east of Venezuela and the Lesser Antilles. Those systems historically have a better chance of turning into a named storm.

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