Tropical Storm Fiona threatened to dump up to 16 inches of rain in parts of Puerto Rico on Saturday as forecasters placed the U.S. territory under a hurricane watch and people braced for potential landslides, severe flooding and power outages. The storm was located 145 miles southeast of St. Croix on Saturday morning with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
It was moving west at 13 mph on a path forecast to pass near Puerto Rico. Forecasters warned Fiona could be near hurricane strength when it passes through Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Fiona is expected to swipe past the Dominican Republic on Sunday as a potential hurricane and Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday and Tuesday with the threat of extreme rain.
Forecasters issued a hurricane watch for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engaño westward to Cabo Caucedo and for the northern coast from Cabo Engaño westward to Puerto Plata.
In Puerto Rico, authorities opened shelters and closed public beaches, theaters and museums as they urged people to remain indoors.
“It’s time to activate your emergency plan and contact and help your relatives, especially elderly adults who live alone,” said Dr. Gloria Amador, who runs a nonprofit health organization in central Puerto Rico.
At least one cruise ship visit and several flights to the island were canceled while authorities in the eastern Caribbean islands canceled school and prohibited people from practicing aquatic sports as Fiona battered the region.
In the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, authorities said they recorded wind gusts of up to 74 mph, which would be considered a Category 1 hurricane. They also said 9 inches of rain fell in three hours in the Gros Morne area.
Fiona, which is the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm, was predicted to bring 5 to 10 inches of rain in eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 16 inches in isolated spots. Rains of 4 to 8 inches were forecast for the Dominican Republic, with up to 12 inches in places. Life-threatening surf also was possible from Fiona’s winds, forecasters said.
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 night.
Lester was expected to remain a tropical storm until hitting the Mexican coast. Forecasters warned of potential dangers from heavy rains.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph Saturday morning. It was centered about 110 miles southeast of Acapulco and moving to the northwest at 10 mph.
A tropical storm warning was up from Puerto Escondido to Zihuatanejo. The hurricane center said Lester could drop from 3 to 6 inches of rain in western Oaxaca state, Guerrero state, Michoacan state, Colima state and Jalisco state, with isolated areas getting a foot.