On Monday morning, Hurricane Fiona brought hurricane-like conditions to the Dominican Republic. According to meteorologists, the storm will continue to affect the island through the afternoon. Puerto Rico is still receiving reports of tropical storm status.
The expected rains in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico will “produce life-threatening and catastrophic flooding along with mudslides and landslides.” according to the National Hurricane Center. Flash floods and urban flooding have been warned.
According to the same institution, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic near Boca de Yuma around 3:00 a.m. Monday, with maximum sustained winds at landfall estimated at 90 mph.
A hurricane warning is currently in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands, and tropical storm conditions are expected for the southeastern Bahamas through early Tuesday. The hurricane caused significant power outages in Puerto Rico.
A number of major airlines, including American, Delta, Southwest, and United, have begun issuing waivers to travelers scheduled to fly to or from the affected Caribbean islands, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and others.
Airlines canceled all of the September 18 flights into the two USVI airports-Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix and Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas-which are close by. As of at least 12:00 p.m. on Monday, September 19, both airports will be closed, the USVI Tourism Department announced on Sunday.
All USVI seaports were already shut down by the U.S. Coast Guard as of Friday, September 16 at 10:00 p.m., and they will stay so until further notice.
“The National Weather Service has lifted its Hurricane Watch advisory for the U.S. Virgin Islands; however, the Territory remains under a Tropical Storm Warning and flashflood watch as Fiona, which has strengthened to a hurricane, continues its westward track toward Puerto Rico,” This afternoon, the US Virgin Islands’ official tourism website posted the warning.
“While there has been no damage or devastation reported on the islands, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. is urging residents to stay home as the storm continues,” according to the notice. “Visitors are encouraged to exercise caution and check with airlines, hotels, car rental companies, tour operators, etc. to determine what actions they plan to take or what policies the businesses have in place.”
Joseph Boschulte, USVI Commissioner of Tourism, said, “As the Department of Tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands, our utmost priority is the safety and comfort of our residents and visitors. We advise all to take the proper precautions and remain indoors. We send our warmest thoughts and prayers to our sister islands of Puerto Rico and the BVI.”