Tropical Storm Fiona pushes west toward Puerto Rico, islands

Tropical Storm Fiona is expected to continue moving west with a gradual decrease in forward speed through Saturday night or early Sunday, followed by a turn toward the west-northwest later on Sunday, as it clears the northeastern Caribbean and approaches the Bahamas.

The center of the storm will move across the Leeward Islands tonight and near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday through early Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts some slight strengthening during the next few days.

Forecasters also are tracking a new disturbance that emerged Thursday night off the coast of Africa. As of 8 a.m. Friday, its chance of development is 20% over the next five days. It could develop late in the weekend or early next week when it moves north over the Atlantic.

Fiona appears unlikely to be a threat to Florida, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

“The most likely path at this time is a northward turn early next week, away from Florida,” the weather service said.

As of 8 a.m. Friday, the storm was producing top winds of 50 mph, with its center located about 175 miles east of the Caribbean and was moving west at 15 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Fiona’s tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles from the center.

Fiona formed late Wednesday, becoming the sixth named storm of the 2022 hurricane season. Fiona developed from Tropical Depression Seven, which formed in the Atlantic on Wednesday morning.

Forecasters said Fiona could move anywhere from eastern Cuba to the northeast of the Bahamas over the next five days.

Fiona is expected to bring sea swells and 4 to 8 inches of rain, with isolated higher amounts.

It’s now past the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season with five previous named storms before Fiona. AccuWeather notes that “not a single hurricane has come within striking distance of the East Coast or Gulf Coast” this season.

The next storm to form would be Gaston.

“The Atlantic hurricane season’s slow pace so far in 2022 has … led to a startling disparity in the number of mainland U.S. landfalls through mid-September compared to the last two years,” The Weather Channel reported.

Forecasters say dry air, Saharan dust and wind shear have been among the reasons there haven’t been more storms this year.

Breaking News Alerts

Breaking News Alerts

As it happens

Get updates on developing stories as they happen with our free breaking news email alerts.

“The lack of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic has been particularly noticeable considering recent hyperactive hurricane seasons with many impacts to the U.S. and Caribbean. Even though the season overall may end up near average or even slightly below average, it only takes one storm to threaten lives and create a major disaster,” according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter.

The 2020 hurricane season set a record with 30 named systems, while 2021′s season was the third most active with 21 named systems. An average year calls for 14 named storms.

Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Source link