Fiona is a hurricane now -- and getting stronger, according to the National Hurricane Center, on Sunday.
As of 1 p.m. CDT Sunday, the center of Hurricane Fiona was located about 25 miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and was tracking to the west-northwest at 8 mph.
Fiona’s winds increased to 85 mph on Sunday afternoon, according to the hurricane center, making it a Category 1 hurricane.
More strengthening will be possible today. Fiona could get even stronger once it clears the Dominican Republic and moves into the western Atlantic. The hurricane center’s intensity forecast shows Fiona’s winds peaking at 115 mph -- Category 3 -- in about 96 hours.
The hurricane center was particularly worried about the amount of rain Fiona could drop on Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Deadly flash flooding and mudslides are a real possibility through the next few days in those areas.
The National Hurricane Center said Fiona had 85 mph winds on Sunday afternoon as it nears a potential landfall in Puerto Rico. The upgrade makes Fiona the third hurricane of 2022 in the Atlantic.
The eye of the storm was very near the southwest coast of Puerto Rico as of 1 p.m. CDT Sunday, the hurricane center said.
The storm was expected to bring torrential rain -- up to 25 inches -- and mudslides to Puerto Rico over the next few days, and the hurricane center said “catastrophic” flash flooding will be possible.
The entire east end of the island was covered by flash flood warnings as of early Sunday afternoon, and there have been reports that nearly the entire island has no power:
Some areas of Puerto Rico as of 1 p.m. have already gotten 5 to 6 inches of rain, with the worst of it only now getting started.
A hurricane warning continues for Puerto Rico, as well as the eastern side of the Dominican Republic, which will be in Fiona’s path after Puerto Rico.
Tropical storm warnings and watches stretched as far north as the Bahamas on Sunday.
The hurricane center’s path for Fiona takes the storm near or over the western tip of Puerto Rico later today.
Then Fiona will track near or over the eastern Dominican Republic and turn northward, toward the Bahamas. It could strengthen more while it is near the southeastern Bahamas, but the track doesn’t take the center of the storm through the islands but to the east.
Then the path turns more to the north. If it verifies that will keep Fiona away from the U.S. mainland.
Puerto Rico could get 12-16 inches of rain with local amounts up to 25 inches, especially on the eastern and southern parts of the island, forecasters said.
The northern Dominican Republic was in line to get 4 to 8 inches with local amounts up to 12 inches.
Fiona could also cause a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet along the southern coast of Puerto Rico, as well as Vieques and Culebra. One to 2 feet of surge will be possible in the U.S. Virgin Islands as well.
Here are the watches and warnings as of Sunday afternoon:
* A hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, and the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.
* A hurricane watch is in effect for the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata. (The watch for the U.S. Virgin Islands has been dropped.)
* A tropical storm warning is in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata.
* A tropical storm watch is in effect for the south coast of the Dominican Republic west of Cabo Caucedo to Barahona, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands.
On the hurricane center’s forecast track the center of Fiona will approach Puerto Rico this morning, and move near or over Puerto Rico this afternoon or evening. Fiona will then move near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Monday, and near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday.
Hurricane winds, surge and rain will be the story in Puerto Rico today and will begin in the eastern Dominican Republic tonight and into Monday, the hurricane center said.
Hurricane conditions will be possible in the watch area in the Dominican Republic tonight into Monday.