Tropical Storm Fiona watches for Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Tropical Storm Fiona watches for Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
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Tropical Storm Fiona intensified Thursday afternoon, prompting tropical storm watches for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the National Hurricane Center said.

Fiona was located about 425 miles east of the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph to 60 mph earlier Thursday, according to the NHC’s 5 p.m. advisory. The system is moving west at 14 mph with tropical storm-force winds 140 mph.

Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin

A tropical storm watch is also in effect for the British Virgin Islands.

NHC Senior Hurricane Specialist Robbie Berg said: “Westerly movement with some reduction in forward speed is expected by Saturday night, with a possible west-northwest turn on Sunday.” “On the forecast track, the center of Fiona is expected to move across the Leeward Islands Friday night and early Saturday, and move near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Saturday into Sunday.”

The forecast strengthens the system but avoids hurricane status over the next five days.

Fiona became a tropical storm Wednesday night when satellite data showed Tropical Depression 7 had strengthened, packing maximum sustained winds of more than 39 miles per hour. It is not yet known whether the tropical storm will affect Florida or the United States.

Most of the forecast storm tracks show Fiona making a sharp turn northeast of the Sunshine State. The latest five-day track has a theme of uncertainty over the Turks and Caicos Islands, approaching the southern Bahamas by Tuesday with winds of up to 85 mph.

“Basic global models suggest that the cyclone could end up anywhere from eastern Cuba to the northeastern Bahamas by the end of the forecast period,” Berg said. “For now, the official track forecast has been shifted south and west from the previous forecast, taking into account the revised initial position and general trend in track guidance.”

Earlier Thursday, forecasters were unimpressed with Fiona’s build, calling it “truncated” and “asymmetrical” and suggesting the ragged shape would not allow for much strengthening in the near future. A strong northwesterly wind expected to keep the storm at bay for the next few days is further hampering it, but it may not be enough to prevent any intensification.

“Fiona’s current intensity is a testament to her resilience in the face of the disruption she has experienced over the past 24 hours,” Berg said.

Despite environmental factors, Fiona was able to maintain her strength.

However, conditions worsen for Fiona as its core interacts with dry air and is potentially affected by a land intrusion as it passes parts of the Greater Antilles this weekend and early next week.

On Monday, Fiona may interact with the Hispaniola mountain range, which has historically weakened tropical storm organization due to the mountainous terrain’s influence on the wind structure. However, forecasts actually show Fiona’s winds picking up to about 70 mph at the same time as it passes over Hispaniola. Global models show Fiona could even become a hurricane, according to Colorado State University’s two-week forecast for the tropics.

“While Fiona is not forecast to strengthen much in the short term, most global models have it strengthening to hurricane strength by next week,” the CSU said.

Heavy rain is expected over the weekend in the Caribbean, with Hispaniola receiving a maximum of just 12 inches. Showers in the Leeward Islands are expected to total 4 to 6 inches Friday night.

“This rain may cause isolated flash and urban flooding along with isolated mudslides in higher elevations,” Berg said.

Hurricane season is currently in the middle of the most active time for tropical activity, between mid-August and mid-October.

Before the season, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters predicted 2022 would be another above-average season in storm production, following two record-breaking seasons for named storms. NOAA doubled down on its forecast in early August. However, the season moved at a slower pace compared to previous seasons.

Typically, a storm called the eighth appears in early September or earlier. 9 and the third hurricane of September. 7, but the season thus produced five named storms and two hurricanes. According to NOAA’s forecast, there will be a total of 14 to 21 storms by the end of the season. 30

Although things are quiet, the CSU predicts that the tropics will intensify over the next two weeks with a 50% chance of above-average activity. CSU also gave a 40% chance of normal activity occurring and a 10% chance of below-average activity.

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