The storm, packing winds of 50 mph with even higher gusts, was only about 265 miles east of the Leeward Islands early Friday morning.
The tropical storm conditions, which extend 125 miles from the center of the storm, have prompted multiple governments across the region to issue tropical storm warnings and watches.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Dominica and Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.
“Tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area across the Virgin Islands on Saturday and in 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. Barthélemy, and St. Martin.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours.
“The center of Fiona is expected to move across the Leeward Islands tonight and early Saturday, and move near or just south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late Saturday into Sunday,” the hurricane center wrote.
The storm could fluctuate in strength through the weekend, but isn’t anticipated to strengthen significantly.
Flash floods and mudslides are big concerns
Fiona’s primary impact will be heavy rain from the Leeward Islands to Puerto Rico.
Flash flooding of urban areas and mudslides in the higher terrain will be possible due to 3 to 8 inches of rainfall, with isolated amounts topping 15 inches, according to the center.
“Considerable flood impacts are possible across eastern portions of Puerto Rico,” the hurricane center warns.
Here is a breakdown of how much rain is expected in each location according to the NHC.
- Leeward Islands: 3 to 6 inches
- British and U.S. 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 forecast to be near Hispaniola, where watches may be required later on Friday, the NHC said.
Beyond that time period, the computer forecast models have it linger east of the Bahamas for days. Still, then they disagree on where it goes next. It is undoubtedly a storm to watch, especially if you live on the east coast of the US.