Hurricane Fiona Threatens to Reach Category 4

After ravaging Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Monday, Hurricane Fiona has developed into a “life-threatening” category three storm overnight as it barrels toward the Turks and Caicos islands.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that Fiona’s maximum sustained winds have reached 115 mph, with higher gusts, and may evolve into a category four storm by Wednesday should it continue pushing north. It may still be a category four by the time it makes its estimated arrival in the Bahamas on Friday. 

Heavy rainfall has already begun hammering the British-owned Turks and Caicos, with a tropical storm warning in effect for the nearby Bahamas. On Monday, a curfew was imposed on the islanders; residents of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos have been ordered to remain off the streets after 5 p.m. and to stay indoors until morning.

Additionally, the hurricane center warned of “life-threatening” rainfall and flash floods in parts of the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos, which could raise water levels 5 to 8 feet above normal. Currently, Fiona is estimated to be 40 miles away from Turks and Caicos.

The effects of Hurricane Fiona have been deeply felt by the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in particular. Though the worst of it has passed in Puerto Rico, the territory will be reeling in the aftermath of Fiona for quite some time–especially as it is still recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria five years ago. “The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic”, said the Puerto Rico gov. Pedro Pierluisi refers to the majority of Puerto Ricans who were left without running water and power. At least two deaths were confirmed on the island, though officials say there could be more. In the Dominican Republic, the same grim picture has been painted, with millions of residents having no access to safe water or electricity sources.

President Biden has promised to send federal aid to Puerto Rico after speaking with Gov. Pierluisi. “As damage assessments are conducted, the President said that the number of support personnel will increase substantially,” the White House said. The state of New York has also promised to send 100 state troopers to aid relief efforts in the territory. 

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