Hurricane Fiona: Category 1 storm makes landfall, lashes Puerto Rico with heavy rains

PUERTO RICO — Tropical Storm Fiona achieved hurricane status just before midday Sunday and has been blamed for at least one death as Puerto Rico braces for the storm’s landfall.

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Update 3:58 p.m. EDT Sept. 18: Hurricane Fiona made landfall on southwestern Puerto Rico at around 3:35 p.m. EDT Sunday.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Fiona is packing 85-mph sustained winds and is moving northwest at 9 mph.

Original report: According to CNN, the vice president of the French territory of Guadeloupe confirmed the storm is responsible for one death in Basse-Terre.

Meanwhile, nearly 260,000 customers in Puerto Rico were already without power as of 9:15 a.m. EDT Sunday, according to

According to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. EDT advisory, Fiona was roughly 50 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico, packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. The storm, expected to bring heavy rain and life-threatening mudslides to the island, is moving west-northwest at 8 mph.

A storm must maintain wind speed of 74 mph to be classified as a Category 1 hurricane, based on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

President Joe Biden declared an emergency crisis for the commonwealth on Sunday morning, ordering federal assistance dispatched to help Puerto Rican authorities respond to the storm and its aftermath, WFLA-TV reported.

Between 12 and 16 inches of rainfall is expected across a wide swath of Puerto Rico on Sunday, with isolated areas across southern and eastern portions of the island seeing as many as 25 inches of rain, CNN reported.

“These rains will produce life-threatening flash flooding and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the hurricane center stated.

A hurricane warning was issued for Puerto Rico, including the islands of Vieques and Culebra, and later expanded to include the eastern Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo. Meanwhile, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, from Cabo Frances Viejo west to Puerto Plata, were under a hurricane watch Sunday morning, according to the NHC.