Hurricane Fiona - live: Puerto Rico power outage hits 1.3m homes as storm reaches Dominican Republic

·29-min read
Hurricane Fiona - live: Puerto Rico power outage hits 1.3m homes as storm reaches Dominican Republic

More than a million residents of Puerto Rico are without power as Hurricane Fiona departed the US island territory and continued on a path to the Dominican Republic.

Wind speeds of 85mph and “historic” rains were felt as the tropical storm made landfall on Puerto Rico’s eastern shores on Sunday, where many rivers are now heavily flooded and at least one road bridge was swept away.

As of Monday morning, more than 1.3 million homes were still without power as conditions remained too dangerous for repairs across large swaths of the island. Power company LUMA warned that it could take several days for full power resoration.

The storm made landfall early Monday in the Dominican Republic and is on track to brush past the southeast Bahamas, as well as Turks and Caicos into Tuesday.

Overnight, US President Joe Biden issued an emergency disaster declaration to speed-up the relief process for the island, which was days away from marking the fifth anniversary of another powerful hurricane that caused thousands of deaths and the collapse of vital energy infrastructure in 2017.

Key points

  • Hurricane Fiona makes landfall as Puerto Rico suffers power outage

  • Joe Biden approves emergency declaration to help disaster relief

  • Fiona nears Dominican Republic after pounding Puerto Rico

  • Damage by hurricane Fiona reminds residents of Maria

President Biden offers thoughts for Puerto Rico

15:04 , Ethan Freedman

President Joe Biden, who today is in the UK for the Queen’s funeral, shared thoughts for Puerto Rico on Twitter.

14:52 , Ethan Freedman

Hurricane Fiona is hitting the Dominican Republic on Monday, with up to 15 inches of rain expected (afp/AFP via Getty Images)
Hurricane Fiona is hitting the Dominican Republic on Monday, with up to 15 inches of rain expected (afp/AFP via Getty Images)

Fiona hitting Dominican Republic now

14:43 , Ethan Freedman

Hurricane Fiona has made landfall in the Dominican Republic, with additional devastation expected on that island.

Up to 15 total inches (38 centimetres) of rain are forecast in parts of the island, with three- to five-foot storm surges and hurricane-force winds.

14:31 , Ethan Freedman

Power company LUMA says that some areas are starting to be “re-energized” after the entire island of Puerto Rico lost power in the storm.

100,000 people have had power restored as of this morning, according to a tweet from LUMA – but a lot more work remains to be done, after 1.3 million customers in total lost power.

Caribbean damage being assessed

14:21 , Ethan Freedman

Hurricane Fiona has devastated some of the smaller islands in the eastern Caribbean as well as Puerto Rico. French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he’s recognized a “state of natural disaster” on the island of Guadeloupe, a French overseas region.

A destroyed on the French island of Guadeloupe in the eastern Caribbean (AFP via Getty Images)
A destroyed on the French island of Guadeloupe in the eastern Caribbean (AFP via Getty Images)

Bahamas, Bermuda likely next to be hit

14:11 , Ethan Freedman

Hurricane Fiona is forecast to turn north as it crosses the Dominican Republic, bringing it back over the Atlantic.

From there, the storm is expected to make a close brush with the southeastern end of the Bahamas before moving parallel to the east coast of the US up to Bermuda.

Fiona could hit Bermuda on Thursday, at which point is forecast to be nearly a Category 4 storm.

13:59 , Ethan Freedman

The storm’s quintessential cyclone shape is visible from satellite images as Fiona hits the Dominican Republic this morning

More than 1.3m Puerto Ricans still without power

13:40 , Megan Sheets

Fears are mounting that millions of Puerto Ricans could be without power for days to come in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.

As of Monday morning, more than 1.3 million homes were still without power, according to PowerOutage.US - down from about 3.3 million immediately after the storm swept over the island.

Conditions remain far too dangerous for crews to begin work restoring power across large swaths of the island, which was hit by up to 30 inches of rain in some areas in a matter of hours.

Power company LUMA warned Sunday that it could take several days for a full power restoration amid “incredibly challenging” conditions for repair workers.

Fiona makes landfall in Dominican Republic

13:12 , Megan Sheets

Hurricane Fiona made landfall on the eastern shore of the Domican Republic early Monday morning after lashing Puerto Rico with up to 30 inches of rain.

The island nation is bracing for strong winds and heavy rains throughout Monday before brushing past the southeast Bahamas, as well as Turks and Caicos into Tuesday.

As it continues its path, Fiona could pose a significant threat to Bermuda and may sweep into parts of Atlantic Canada later this week. It is not expected to track near the US East Coast.

Fiona destroys bridge rebuilt after 2017 hurricane

12:30 , Gino Spocchia

A metal bridge in Puerto Rico that was built in the aftermath of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria has been ripped away again by Hurricane Fiona.

Videos shared by reporters, bystanders and local politicians showed the bridge on Puerto Rico Highway 123 in the town of Utuado being torn out of its moorings and washed downriver by surging flood waters.

Some videos showed metal railings on the side of the road, attached to the bridge, pulled out of the ground and dragged along with it.

Io Dodds reports:

Video shows bridge in Puerto Rico being ripped away as Hurricane Fiona brings floods

Hospitals running on generators, some failed

12:00 , Gino Spocchia

Hospitals and health centres across Puerto Rico were running on generators on Sunday and Monday morning as authorities and the public still processed the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

According to reports from the territory, some of those power generators had failed as electricity was restored slowly to the island of roughly 3 million people.

Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated to antother facility, according to the Associated Press.

Democrat calls for action on infrastructure and climate change

11:20 , Gino Spocchia

Karen Green, the Democratic nominee for Florida’s US House District, called for better disaster response capabilities in her home state and across the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.

Saying that Americans increasingly need infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events, Ms Greened added that it was also “because of disasters such as Hurrican Fiona that we need to combat climate change”.

While the weekend hurricane cannot solely be linked to a warming climate, such events are more likely.

Joe Biden approves diaster declaration

10:53 , Gino Spocchia

A disaster declaration for Puerto Rico was approved by US President Joe Biden on Sunday, the White House said.

The move will make more federal resources available for the island territory as it recovers from the weekend’s extreme weather event.

San Jose group sending relief to Puerto Rico

10:20 , Namita Singh

A San Jose group has decided to send help to Puerto Rico as more than a million residents struggle to survive amid power outages and floods.

Known as the Puerto Rican Civic Club of San Jose, the group is collecting donations to provide gas generators and solar lights to hospitals, orphanages and shelters in the hurricane-hit island nation, reported NBC News.

“Everything is flooded. All the rivers are completely floated, everything is completely destroyed once again,” said the president of the club Maria Acevedo.

Kathryn Ramos, another member of the group, says providing power to keep the refrigerators running is critical. “A lot of elderly people are in situations where they can’t keep their insulin cold. And it is causing them to get sick.

“And the issues that stem around that is ultimately you have a lot of people die.

‘More than 1.4 million people left without power’ in Puerto Rico

09:50 , Namita Singh

More than 1.4 million were left without power in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona knocked out power grids, reported CNN.

The hurricane continues to pummel Puerto Rico and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic, with the country preparing itself for mudslides and landslides, following a warning from the National Weather Service.

According to the website, PowerOutage.us, the entire island was without power, early Monday morning, with comments from Luma that it has “reenergized some circuits, however there is limited information, and no numbers on how many customers have been restored.”

Hurricane Fiona nears Dominican Republic after wreaking havoc in Puerto Rico

09:20 , Namita Singh

Fiona is forecast to hit the Dominican Republic today and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands, with the threat of heavy rain.

It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas tomorrow.

The hurricane is centred 50 miles (85km) southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140kph) last night, according to the US National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9mph (15kph).

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

ICYMI: Video shows bridge ripped away by flood waters

08:49 , Io Dodds

This is the moment that a metal bridge erected in the wake of 2017's devastating Hurricane Maria was swept away by Fiona in a matter of minutes.

Videos shared by reporters, bystanders, and local politicians showed the bridge on Puerto Rico Highway 123 in the town of Utuado being torn out of its moorings and washed downriver by surging flood waters.

You can read my full story here.

Puerto Ricans exchange memes amidst the chaos

07:35 , Namita Singh

Puerto Ricans are resorting to swapping memes about Hurricane Fiona, riffing on the fact that it shares a name with the princess in Shrek and joking that it’s searching the Caribbean for the grumpy ogre.

Many islanders are still waiting for the electricity grid to get back online.

“We don’t really know when the power and the electricity is going to come back," San Juan resident Ana Marcial told WFLA Channel 8. "We really never know. It’s very unpredictable."

In pictures: Hurricane Fiona pounds Puerto Rico, knocking out power grid and unleashing floods

07:09 , Namita Singh

People clean debris from a road after a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)
People clean debris from a road after a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)
A road is blocked by a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)
A road is blocked by a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)
People clean a house flooded by the rains of Hurricane Fiona (AP)
People clean a house flooded by the rains of Hurricane Fiona (AP)
A man wades through a flooded street after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico (Reuters)
A man wades through a flooded street after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico (Reuters)
A man walk past an electricity pole that was damaged by Hurricane Fiona in Yauco, Puerto Rico, 18 September 2022 (Reuters)
A man walk past an electricity pole that was damaged by Hurricane Fiona in Yauco, Puerto Rico, 18 September 2022 (Reuters)
A car sits in flood waters after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico, 18 September 2022 (Reuters)
A car sits in flood waters after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico, 18 September 2022 (Reuters)

Video: Light goes out as Puerto Rico’s governor briefs press about the hurricane’s impact

06:57 , Namita Singh

Damage by hurricane Fiona reminds residents of Maria: ‘We all have post traumatic stress’

06:51 , Namita Singh

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of hurricane Maria, a devastating storm that struck on 20 September 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak, including the power grid. Outages remain common, and reconstruction started only recently.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?”’ said Danny Hernandez, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

“After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,” he said.

A home is submerged in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday,  18 September 2022 (AP)
A home is submerged in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)

Ada Vivian Roman, a 21-year-old photography student, said the storm knocked down trees and fences in her hometown of Toa Alta.

“I’m actually very anxious because it’s a really slow-moving hurricane and time does not move,” she said. “You look at the clock and it’s still the same hour.”

She said she is also worried about whether the public transportation she relies on to get to her job at a public relations agency will be operating by the time she has to go back to the office.

“But I know that I’m privileged compared with other families who are practically losing their homes because they are under water,” she said.

Five yeas after Maria, reconstruction drags on in Puerto Rico

06:44 , Namita Singh

Jetsabel Osorio Chevere looked up with a sad smile as she leaned against her battered home.

Nearly five years have gone by since hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and no one has offered her family a plastic tarp or zinc panel to replace the roof that the Category 4 storm ripped off the two-storey home in an impoverished corner in the north coast town of Loiza.

“No one comes here to help,” the 19-year-old said.

It’s a familiar lament in a US territory of 3.2 million people where thousands of homes, roads and recreational areas have yet to be fixed or rebuilt since Maria struck in September 2017.

The government has completed only 21 per cent of more than 5,500 official post-hurricane projects, and seven of the island’s 78 municipalities report that not a single project has begun.

Only five municipalities report that half of the projects slated for their region have been completed, according to an Associated Press review of government data.

Read the details here:

5 years after Maria, reconstruction drags on in Puerto Rico

Video shows bridge being swept away as Hurricane Fiona brings flooding

06:22 , Namita Singh

A metal bridge in Puerto Rico that was built in the aftermath of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria has been ripped away again by Hurricane Fiona.

Videos shared by reporters, bystanders, and local politicians showed the bridge on Puerto Rico Highway 123 in the town of Utuado being torn out of its moorings and washed downriver by surging flood waters.

Some videos showed metal railings on the side of the road, attached to the bridge, pulled out of the ground and dragged along with it.

The bridge was originally installed in 2018 after the previous crossing was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, according to Puerto Rico legislator Roberto Lefranc Fortuño.

It came as the US National Hurricane Centre (NHS) warned of “catastrophic flash and urban flooding” across Puerto Rico and and the eastern Dominican Republic, which lies further along the path of the storm.

My colleague Io Dodds reports:

Puerto Rico: Video shows bridge being ripped away as Hurricane Fiona brings floods

Maryland and Pennsylvania send relief workers

06:20 , Io Dodds

Two US states have said they will send relief forces to Puerto Rico.

A task force of 35 firefighters and civilians from Maryland will leave for the island on Monday, The Baltimore Sun reported, while Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf said he will send two search and rescue advisers.

More states are likely to announce similar deployments as FEMA calls for further aid. FEMA is already on the ground following President Joe Biden's declaration of a state of emergency at Puerto Rico's request on Sunday morning.

“Thank you ⁦POTUS⁩ for a swift approval of an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico," said FEMA spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg on Sunday. “This will allow FEMA to respond and support the island as they experience the extreme weather impacts of [then] Tropical Storm Fiona."

Hurricane Fiona makes landfall as Puerto Rico suffers power outage

06:15 , Namita Singh

Hurricane Fiona made landfall along the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico as the island suffered from a complete island-wide power outage.

The hurricane came ashore near Punta Tocon, at 3.20pm ET yesterday with winds of 85 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, and has already caused damaging flooding as it heads towards the Dominican Republic.

Earlier Puerto Rico suffered a massive loss of power as Hurricane Fiona took aim at the US territory and started to batter it with “historic” rains and severe winds, which officials say could cause mudslides.

Many rivers on the eastern side of Puerto Rico are now in a state of moderate to major flooding, according to CNN.

One river in the southeast part of the island has now risen more than 12 feet in less than seven hours and is now over 25 feet, breaking the previous record of 24.79 feet set during Hurricane Maria in 2017.

My colleague Graeme Massie reports:

Hurricane Fiona makes landfall as Puerto Rico suffers island-wide power outage

Fiona nears Dominican Republic after pounding Puerto Rico

06:00 , Namita Singh

Hurricane Fiona bore down on the Dominican Republic today after knocking out the power grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was “catastrophic.”

No deaths have been reported, but authorities in the US territory said it was too early to estimate the damage from a storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico.

Up to 30inches (76cm) was forecast for Puerto Rico’s eastern and southern regions.

“It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

He said flooding has reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island.

Read the details here:

Fiona nears Dominican Republic after pounding Puerto Rico

Joe Biden approves emergency declaration to help disaster relief

05:46 , Namita Singh

US president Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico on yesterday, a move that authorises the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) to coordinate disaster relief and provide emergency protective measures.

US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said agency officials deployed to Puerto Rico will assist with restoration efforts “as it becomes safe to do so.”

More than 300 Fema responders are working with the emergency management structure of the island, said Anne Bink, Fema’s assistant administrator for response and recovery.

A home is submerged in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)
A home is submerged in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, 18 September 2022 (AP)

“Our heart goes out to the residents that are again going through another catastrophic event five years later,” she told CNN as she noted Fiona has hit close to five- year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

She said that the response is focused on the emergency generation and power missions for critical facilities as well as ensuring that a command and control structure is in place for search and rescue missions.

Hurricane Fiona knocks out power grid in Puerto Rico

05:31 , Namita Singh

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast yesterday and knocked the power grid out.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

At a press conference in the capital San Juan, Luma spokesperson Abner Gomez said the entire electrical system had first been shut down to protect its infrastructure. Some power was being restored with priority being given to hospitals and other critical community services, he said.

A flooded road is seen during the passage of hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico, on 18 September 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
A flooded road is seen during the passage of hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico, on 18 September 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering our capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

Health centres were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated.

Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands now under hurricane warnings

05:08 , Io Dodds

The eye of Fiona is now nearing the Dominican Republic and on track to sweep across the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

In a bulletin about one hour ago, the NHC put Fiona's centre about 45 miles south southeast of Punta Cana in the Republic, moving west northwest at about 10mph.

The governments of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands upgraded their tropical storm warnings to hurricane warnings as Fiona was expected to swing towards the north.

"Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are occurring on portions of Puerto Rico and will likely continue until Monday morning. Hurricane conditions are expected in portions of the eastern Dominican Republic later tonight and Monday, and in the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday," the NHC said.

Hurricane Fiona seen from space

04:01 , Io Dodds

The US National Weather Service has released awe-inspiring satellite footage of Hurricane Fiona passing over Puerto Rico.

The video clip was assembled from numerous snapshots taken by the US government’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system, which consists of four satellites in permanent orbit at fixed points over the equator.

Videos show flooded streets and airport runway

02:56 , Io Dodds

Here’s some footage of how the hurricane is affecting Puerto Rico via Antilles-based photographer Gérald Deliscar-Jourdan.

One clip shows a runway at Mercedita International Airport near Ponce on the island’s south coast completely flooded, while another shows a town street submerged in what looks up 2-3 ft of water.

This video, from San Juan radio stationWKAQ 580, muddy flood waters rushing underneath a bridge somewhere in Puerto Rico.

Evacuations begin in Dominican Republic

02:26 , Io Dodds

Aid agencies in the Dominican Republic have begun evacuating residents from high-risk areas in the east of the country, according to Reuters.

President Luis Abinader delayed his trip to the UN General Assemvly in New York, while the start of the school year was pushed back from Monday to Wednesday.

Puerto Rico resident Denise Rios, who lives in the southwestern town of Hormigueros, told Reuters that she had lost power to her home around noon when rain and strong gusts began to hit.

"Since then it hasn't stopped," she said. "It is raining heavily and the wind is blowing hard. I'm calm, but alert."

Fiona is now halfway to Dominican Republic

01:43 , Io Dodds

The eye of Hurricane Fiona is now roughly 40 miles west of Puerto Rico, about halfway between the US territory and the Dominican Republic, US officials say.

In its latest bulletin tonight, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that “heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding continues across much of Puerto Rico”.

The storm’s current maximum sustained windspeed is 85mph, with higher gusts, and that’s expected to strengthen. Hurricane-force winds extend to about 30 miles beyond the eye, and tropical-storm-force extend to 140 miles.

That now puts Puerto Rico outside the worst of the winds, with the Dominican Republic now squarely in Fiona’s crosshairs.

All flights to the US Virgin Islands cancelled

01:36 , Io Dodds

For obvious reasons, travel across the Caribbean is highly disrupted. All flights in the US Virgin Islands on Sunday have been cancelled, according to TravelPulse, while the US Coast Guard closed down all the islands’ sea ports.

The US Virgin Islands are about 67 miles east of Puerto Rico, and have been seeing sustained wind speeds of 45mph with gusts of up to 75mph, and expcted rainfall of up to six inches.

That’s nothing to what Puerto Rico is seeing right now: forecasters have said the island could see up to 30 inches of rain and maximum sustained winds of nearly 85mph.

Rush to protect life and property

Monday 19 September 2022 00:50 , Io Dodds

Here’s a closer look at the NHC’s most recent update about Hurricane Fiona.

“Hurricane conditions are occurring on portions of Puerto Rico, and are expected in portions of the eastern Dominican Republic tonight and Monday,” said the agency on Sunday evening, adding that (less intense) “tropical storm conditions” would reach parts of the Republic “within the next few hours”.

What does that look like on the ground? The NHC warns of a combination of “storm surge” and high tides that will cause normally dry areas near the shoreline to be flooded by rising waters.

Similar conditions are expected in the Dominican Republic, which could see waters rising to 3 ft above usual high ride marks.

“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the NHC said.

‘The damages we are seeing are catastrophic'

Monday 19 September 2022 00:04 , Io Dodds

Puerto Rico officials have described “catastrophic” damage as Fiona sweeps across the island.

"The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic," said governor Pedro Pierluisi. “I urge people to stay in their homes,” said William Miranda Torres, mayor of the town of Caguas, which reportedly suffered landslides.

The electricity blackout apparently remains, with the island’s power transmission and distribution company Luma saying: "Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering our capacity to evaluate the complete situation.”

The company added that power may not be fully restored for several days.

That left many health centres and essential services running on generators, while residents told Fox 13 Tampa that the island’s birds were “nowhere to be seen”, apparently taking shelter from the storm.

One death so far linked to Hurricane Fiona

Sunday 18 September 2022 23:17 , Io Dodds

There has been one death reported so far that was tied to Hurricane Fiona, when authorities in Guadelope said a man wasfound dead after his house was swept away from floods.

French president Emmanuel Macron recognised a state of natural disaster on Sunday morning, authorising relief funds (Guadeloupe is an overseas province of France).

Sadly, there's every chance that death toll will rise today.

Fiona now heading for Dominican Republic

Sunday 18 September 2022 22:38 , Io Dodds

The eye of Hurricane Fiona has cleared Puerto Rico and is now heading for the eastern Dominican Republic, according to the NHC.

In its latest bulletin about half an hour ago, the US agency said that the centre of the storm was now about eight miles west of Puerto Rico and heading northwest at around 9mph.

That puts the centre on track to pass over the Republic tonight and throughout Monday, before swinging near the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday.

But that doesn’t mean Puerto Rico is out of the woods. Conditions remain extremely dangerous, with hurricane-force winds extending for 30 miles from the eye and tropical-storm-force winds extending to 140 miles.

The NHC now says there will be “catastrophic flash and urban flooding” across Puerto Rico, and the eastern Dominican Republic.

Gusts of up to 103mph in Ponce

Sunday 18 September 2022 22:29 , Io Dodds

It’s looking nasty out there. This footage via storm chaser Brett Adair shows hurricane winds blowing clouds of debris from rooftops and across parking lots as Fiona makes landfall.

Weather Channel on-camera meteorologist Mike Seidel also shared a video of what he called 103mph gusts in Ponce, a city on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

Videos show metal bridge being ripped away

Sunday 18 September 2022 21:57 , Io Dodds

Some alarming footage is already emerging from Puerto Rico. According to CBS correspondent David Begnaud, a recently built metal bridge in the town of Utuado was simply washed away on Sunday morning, pulling metal railings out of the ground along with it.

The same event was shown in multiple videos from different angles that were posted on Sunday, suggesting it is authentic.

This seems to be the same bridge that was installed in 2018 to replace an earlier span that destroyed by Hurricane Maria , with $2.8m in funding from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) according to local newspaper Primera Hora.

‘Move immediately to higher ground'

Sunday 18 September 2022 21:12 , Io Dodds

The US National Weather Service has issued flood warnings numerous areas of Puerto Rico, telling anyone in the area to "move immediately to higher ground".

The warnings cover almost the entire island, including the capital San Juan and the entire stretch of coastline from there around the eastern and southern shorelines to west of Ponce.

NWS flash flood warnings for Puerto Rico on Sunday 18 September 2022 (US National Weather Service)
NWS flash flood warnings for Puerto Rico on Sunday 18 September 2022 (US National Weather Service)

‘No one should be outside right now'

Sunday 18 September 2022 20:58 , Io Dodds

Governor Pedro Pierluisi is not mincing words about the threat to Puerto Rico. In a news conference earlier today, before the storm made landfall, he warned that it “will cover our entire island” and said “this is impacting us now”.

On his official Facebook page, he added: “Everyone should be in a safe place right now. No one should be outside.”

He said school classes and all work in government agencies will be suspended tomorrow, except for first responders and workers who “provide essential services”. Numerous roads are also closed.

Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic in the crosshairs

Sunday 18 September 2022 20:50 , Io Dodds

Here’s the NHC’s latest map of the estimated path of Hurricane Fiona as of Sunday afternoon.

 (National Hurricane Center)
(National Hurricane Center)

Fiona makes landfall in Puerto Rico

Sunday 18 September 2022 20:42 , Io Dodds

Good afternoon. Hurricane Fiona has made landfall in Puerto Rico, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

“National Weather Service Doppler radar observations indicate that the center of Hurricane Fiona has made landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico near Punta Tocon at 3:20pm [local time],” said the NHC on Sunday afternoon. “Maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated to be 85 mph.”

ICYMI: Video shows bridge ripped away by flood waters

04:35 , Io Dodds

This is the moment that a metal bridge erected in the wake of 2017's devastating Hurricane Maria was swept away by Fiona in a matter of minutes.

Videos shared by reporters, bystanders, and local politicians showed the bridge on Puerto Rico Highway 123 in the town of Utuado being torn out of its moorings and washed downriver by surging flood waters.

You can read my full story here.