September 20, 2022

Powerful Hurricane Fiona Sets Its Sights On Bermuda And Atlantic Canada

Hurricane Fiona continues to strengthen in the western Atlantic Ocean after unleashing catastrophic flooding across Puerto Rico this weekend, causing widespread damage and knocking out power to the entire island at one point.

The major hurricane will brush Bermuda on Thursday night before setting its sights on Atlantic Canada by this weekend.

We saw catastrophic flooding and widespread wind damage across Puerto Rico as the hurricane made landfall on the hard-hit U.S. territory on Sunday. The entire island lost power at one point as the hurricane made landfall, and 80 percent of the island remained without power as of Tuesday night, according to data collected by PowerOutage.US

Southern portions of the island recorded more than two feet of precipitation as a stationary band of torrential rainfall trained over the island for hours on end as the storm made landfall and pulled off to the northwest. This stationary feeder band is similar to the feature that caused historic flooding in southeastern Texas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Things have finally cleared out in Puerto Rico for residents to begin the months-long task of cleaning up from this latest disaster.

Hurricane Fiona remained a category three hurricane at the National Hurricane Center's 5:00 p.m. update on Tuesday, packing maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. The storm is slowly pulling away from land after spending most of the day producing hurricane conditions across the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Favorable conditions across the western Atlantic should allow Fiona to strengthen into a powerful category four hurricane during the day on Wednesday as it turns north-northeast and begins to pick up some speed.

This track will bring the hurricane uncomfortably close to Bermuda, where a tropical storm watch is in effect for Thursday night and Friday morning. Fiona could bring high winds, heavy rain, and dangerous seas to the tiny island nation. 

Things are going to go from bad to worse once Fiona clears Bermuda.

A trough swinging across eastern North America will meet up with the hurricane on Friday, grabbing the storm and pulling it into Atlantic Canada.

SOURCE: Tropical Tidbits

Hurricane Fiona will begin extratropical transition once the trough grabs hold of the storm, meaning that it will lose its tropical characteristics, develop fronts, and derive its energy from the jet stream instead of thunderstorms in an eyewall.

When this transition occurs, the NHC will designate this system "Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona," but that's just a bureaucratic title. Models suggest that Fiona's minimum pressure will drop even further during and after this transition, expanding its wind field without losing much of its ferocity.

While the exact track will shift around before Fiona makes its final approach—something we'd expect 4-5 days out, of course—it appears very likely that the storm is going to bring significant wind and flooding impacts to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland by this weekend. Fiona's growing footprint will lead to major impacts even far away from the center of the storm.

If you live in Atlantic Canada, now is the time to prepare for widespread and long-lasting impacts from a high-end storm, the likes of which you don't see very often around here. Grabbing a couple of bags of storm chips won't cut it if the power goes out for a prolonged period of time.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.