Hurricane Fiona forms late Sunday morning; direct impacts not likely in Sunshine State
Forecasters say Fiona will stay away from the Florida coastline, but it will likely lead to rough surf up and down the East Coast of Florida.
Hurricane Fiona formed late Sunday morning just south of Puerto Rico but should remain safely away from the Southeast U.S. coastline this week.
After several days of tropical storm status, wind speeds within Fiona increased enough for it to be classified as a hurricane. Winds late Sunday morning were observed by a hurricane reconnaissance flight to be sustained at 80 miles per hour. This makes Hurricane Fiona a Category 1 capable of bringing winds of between 74 and 95 miles per hour. While the wind may not be the biggest weather hazard, the potential for flooding is the most likely. Mudslides are possible, especially in the higher terrain of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Rain totals across the islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola could reach nearly a foot before Fiona pushes away from the Greater Antilles.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect in Puerto Rico, with hurricane conditions expected to remain in place through Sunday evening. Hurricane warnings are also in effect for a large swath of coastline in the Dominican Republic, where hurricane conditions are expected later Sunday evening and could last through Monday.
The current National Hurricane Center forecast keeps Hurricane Fiona on a north-northwesterly track through Tuesday, with tropical storm watches already in place for the Turks and Caicos. From there, Fiona is expected to curve out to sea on a near northerly track before potentially becoming a major hurricane by Wednesday morning. Bermuda could be impacted by potentially major Hurricane Fiona Thursday into Friday.
Forecast guidance has been fairly consistent in keeping Fiona away from the Florida coastline, but it will likely lead to rough surf up and down the East Coast of Florida. The risk for rip currents will be present in the state through much of this week from the First Coast to the Gold Coast. While direct impacts from Fiona are not expected, residents are encouraged to continue paying attention to tropical forecasts over the weeks to come, as the peak of the hurricane season is well underway.