- Tropical Storm Fiona is making its way into the Leeward Islands.
- It will produce heavy rain and strong gusts in the Leeward Islands.
- Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may do the same this weekend.
- Fiona could become a hurricane before reaching the Dominican Republic on Sunday night or Monday.
- It is too early to tell whether the system will become a threat to the continental United States.
Tropical Storm Fiona is moving toward the northern Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where it could produce flooding rain and strong winds this weekend before becoming a hurricane next week.
Here’s what we know about Fiona’s threat to the Caribbean and what the storm could mean for the continental United States going forward.
Latest Status and Forecast
Fiona is east of the Leeward Islands in the western Atlantic and is moving west.
On this track, Fiona should be in the Leeward Islands on Friday night. It will then move around the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola this weekend into early next week.
Fiona has been subtly losing latitude since early Thursday, meaning its forecast has recently drifted south and west.
The storm is battling unfavorable upper-level winds (wind shear) and dry air, which are preventing it from strengthening. There could be some strengthening this weekend, possibly a hurricane, before Fiona could reach Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti).
After that, uncertainty increases due to possible terrestrial interactions, but is expected to intensify once Fiona reaches the waters north of Hispaniola.
Tropical storm warnings have now been issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while Antigua, Barbuda, St. Petersburg and other countries continue to issue tropical storm warnings. St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy and St. martin. The tropical storm is expected to be in the warning area within 36 hours.
Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect for Dominica and the British Virgin Islands. That means tropical storms are likely within the next 48 hours.
From the Leeward Islands to Puerto Rico, and east of Hispaniola to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Fiona could receive 3 to 8 inches of rainfall totals (higher locally). Heavy rain this weekend into early next week could trigger dangerous flooding and mudslides, especially in the mountains.
Some moderate storm surge is possible this weekend on the eastern and southern coasts of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hispaniola. In addition, rip currents and rough waves are possible.
Is Fiona a Threat to the Continental United States?
Bottom line, the continental U.S., especially from Florida to the rest of the southeast coast, should just focus on forecasts right now, as it’s too early to tell if Fiona will ultimately be a threat.
That’s because Fiona faces the aforementioned hurdles, including wind shear, dry air, and a potential orbit on Caribbean islands like Hispaniola.
Extensive possibilities include:
– Faster intensity, so it swept northwards into the mid-Atlantic away from the east coast of the United States, similar to last week’s Hurricane Earl.
– Minimum intensity over the next few days, continuing west to west-northwest before curling north, closer to or over the Bahamas and possibly the southeastern U.S. later next week.
For now, the National Hurricane Center’s forecast calls for Fiona to gain some strength early next week, which will allow it to gradually turn north near Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
However, as often happens during hurricane season, that forecast could change. Connect with us on weather.com for the latest updates on this forecast in the coming days.
No matter what happens, now is a good time to make sure you have a plan in place before a hurricane hits. Information on hurricane preparation can be found here.
More from weather.com:
12 Things You Might Not Know About Hurricane Forecasting
7 things newcomers to Florida should know about hurricane season
Florida peninsula’s good fortune won’t last after Hurricane Irma
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment, and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.