Fiona strengthened into the third hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season just hours before making landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday, but the worst of the storm isn’t over yet with AccuWeather meteorologists predicting feet of rain that could cause life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.

Landfall occurred at 3:20 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 18, on the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico near Punta Tocon. Fiona was a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. Debris filled the sky in a video recorded in Ponce, Puerto Rico, located about 35 miles east of where Fiona made landfall.

Hurricane warnings remain in effect for all of Puerto Rico, as well as eastern portions of the Dominican Republic. AccuWeather forecasters have rated Fiona a 2 for the Caribbean on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes as a result of the heightened risk to life and property from the storm’s strong winds and heavy rain, which can amount up to 24 inches (600 mm) in some spots.


At 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, Fiona was a Category 1 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h) with even higher gusts. The center was 45 miles (70 km) west of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and was causing “catastrophic flooding,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

The entire power grid in Puerto Rico went down on Sunday, creating an island-wide crisis. Every one of the nearly 1.5 million power customers across the island was in the dark. Ahead of Fiona, beaches in Puerto Rico were shut down and officials opened shelters, according to The Associated Press.

Theaters and museums were also closed as Fiona approached and officials cautioned residents to stay indoors as conditions deteriorate. As the governor urged residents not to underestimate Fiona on Saturday, Sept. 17, the lights briefly went out while TV cameras were rolling.

Fiona, the most significant tropical system to impact the Caribbean so far this Atlantic hurricane season, has already proved deadly in its sweep of the Lesser Antilles. On Saturday, one man was found dead on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after heavy rainfall in the area attributed to Fiona caused flooding, local authorities stated.

The man was found dead after his house was swept away by floods, and video footage from the island showed a river bursting out of its banks. There have been reports of 19 inches (482 mm) of rain on the island. Early Saturday morning, the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters posted an eerie video from their flight through Fiona overnight Friday, which showed frequent flashes of lightning illuminating the clouds and cockpit of the airplane. (Accuweather)


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