Fiona hits Dominican Republic, expected to become major hurricane

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Sept. 19 (UPI) — The National Hurricane Center said Monday afternoon that Hurricane Fiona has moved into the Atlantic Ocean and is likely to strengthen after it dumped sheets of water and caused life-threatening conditions in the Dominican Republic earlier in the day.

In its 2 p.m. update Monday, the NHC said that Hurricane Fiona was located about 165 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island in Turks and Caicos with sustained winds of 90 mph and moving northwest at 9 mph.

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Hurricane warnings are in effect for Turks and Caicos, where the storm is expected to pass Tuesday, and remain in effect for the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Earlier in the day, Fiona was located 10 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic and had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. It was moving northwest at 8 mph.

The NHC added that the storm is brought hurricane conditions across the Dominican Republic as heavy rains and flooding persist in Puerto Rico, where Fiona had made landfall on Sunday.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Puerto Rico on Monday, including Vieques and Culebra. Tropical storm warnings are also in effect in the Dominican Republic and the southeastern Bahamas.

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The NHC added that “interests in Bermuda should monitor the progress of Fiona” and that the storm is expected to become a “major hurricane” by Wednesday.

“Some strengthening is expected during the next few days after the hurricane emerges over the southwestern Atlantic, and Fiona is forecast to become a major hurricane by Wednesday,” the NHC update said.

A storm becomes a major hurricane at Category 3, when maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph.

After hitting the Dominican Republic, Fiona is projected to make a turn northward and head toward Bermuda. It is not forecast to make landfall anywhere in the United States.

Fiona is the sixth named tropical system in the Atlantic basin this year, following Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle and Earl.