The storm, packing even stronger gusts of 50 mph, was only about 265 miles east of the Leeward Islands early Friday morning.
Tropical storm conditions, which extend 125 kilometers from the storm’s center, have prompted several governments across the region to issue tropical storm warnings and watches.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for the US Virgin Islands, the British Isles, Dominica and Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A watch means tropical storms are possible within the next 48 hours.
“Tropical storm surges are possible Saturday in the Virgin Islands watch area and Puerto Rico late Saturday or Saturday night,” the NHC said.
Tropical storm warnings still cover Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius., St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Bartholomew, and St. Martin
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning area within 36 hours.
“Fiona’s center is expected to move over the Leeward Islands tonight and early Saturday, and move near or south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Saturday into Sunday,” the hurricane center wrote.
The storm may change strength over the weekend, but it is not expected to strengthen significantly.
Flooding and mudslides are major concerns
Fiona’s main impact will be heavy rain from the Leeward Islands to Puerto Rico.
Urban flooding and mudslides on higher ground will be possible with 3 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated amounts reaching 15 inches, according to the center.
“The eastern parts of Puerto Rico may experience significant flooding impacts,” the hurricane center warned.
Here’s how much rain is expected at each location according to the NHC.
- Leeward Islands: Between 3 and 6 inches
- British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico: 4 to 6 inches with local maximum totals of 10 inches
- Eastern Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos: 4 to 8 inches with local maximum totals of 15 inches
By early next week, the system is expected to be near Hispaniola, requiring watches later Friday, the NHC said.
Beyond that time frame, computer forecast patterns remain east of the Bahamas for days. However, then they disagree on where it goes. It’s definitely a storm to watch, especially if you live on the east coast of the US.