Hurricane Fiona reaches Category 4 as it barrels towards Bermuda

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Hurricane Fiona has become a Category 4 storm, with wind speeds up to 132 miles per hour, after crossing the Caribbean and heading into the northern Atlantic.

The storm — the strongest and most destructive of the year so far in the Atlantic Ocean — is forecast to hit Bermuda on Thursday night and Canada over the weekend.

Fiona will likely pass a little to the west of Bermuda, bringing tropical storm-force winds to the island.

It is then expected to weaken before reaching Nova Scotia and Newfoundland but still has the potential to be one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit Atlantic Canada.

Hurricane Fiona caused widespread and intense damage as it hit Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, leaving millions without power and many without running water earlier this week.

In Turks and Caicos, the storm resulted in “minimal damage” and no fatalities, reported the Associated Press. On Tuesday, the major energy supplier on the archipelago, Fortis TCI, said that about 40 per cent of their customers were without power.

Several people have been killed including three people in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in Guadeloupe, a French island, according to AP. Two of the people who died in Puerto Rico were killed by their backup electricity generators – one from a fire, and the other from toxic fumes.

Fiona dropped more than 20 inches (50 centimetres) of rain in some corners of Puerto Rico, leading to flooding and mudslides. Power on most of the island is still out days after the storm – even as the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory, with temperatures forecast to reach up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) in some areas.

The storm has brought back memories of Hurricane Maria, a severely destructive hurricane that decimated Puerto Rico in 2017. That storm left nearly 3,000 people dead and set up a long and arduous rebuilding process for the island’s infrastructure.

The Atlantic hurricane season is starting to pick up after a slow start. In addition to Fiona, Tropical Storm Gaston has formed but poses little risk to land. The National Hurricane Centre is also monitoring three other storm systems in the mid-Atlantic with the potential to form a cyclone this week.

Hurricanes are likely to get stronger on average as the climate crisis accelerates and warmer air and ocean supercharge the storms with more wind and rain. Over the past 40 years, the percentage of storms reaching Category 3 or higher has been increasing, a UN climate science panel reports.