Fiona enters the Caribbean, hurricane watches hoisted for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

Tropical Storm Fiona (WPLG)

The center of Tropical Storm Fiona passed over Guadeloupe – part of the chain of islands flanking the northeastern Caribbean – last night, bringing heavy rains and gusty winds, at times reaching nearly 60 mph, while hurricane watches went up this morning for Puerto Rico and portions of the Dominican Republic as the storm tracked westward into the eastern Caribbean.

Despite the issuance of hurricane watches, Fiona continues to struggle this morning against modest wind shear in the middle part of the atmosphere. The fickle center has once again dipped southward as Air Force Hurricane Hunters flying in the storm find a disorganized and somewhat chaotic low-level wind field on Fiona’s southwest side.

Nevertheless, intensity guidance suggests a more conducive environment for strengthening in the days ahead, and the NHC forecasts Fiona to become a hurricane by the time it nears Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic late Sunday into early Monday.

High pressure steering Fiona westward will break down by early next week, allowing the storm to turn slowly northward around the time it reaches Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fiona’s still-disorganized circulation and uncertainty with a mountainous encounter over the rugged terrain of Hispaniola will largely dictate when and how sharply that turn occurs. A weaker system disrupted by Hispaniola may continue farther westward while a stronger storm will pivot more quickly.

Tropical Storm Fiona (WPLG)

Model guidance into next week has trended away from Florida and the U.S., with the most likely scenario now turning Fiona well east of South Florida. While we can’t entirely dismiss Fiona just yet, the trend is our friend for now.

Major global forecast models and their ensemble tracks through next Thursday. The blue ellipse shows the spread in the ensemble model forecasts. (Tomer Burg/University of Oklahoma.)

For our neighbors in the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, this will be one to closely watch. The slow movement as it turns tomorrow and early next week could bring an extended period of weather both to these areas and parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, heightening the threat for not just flooding but dangerous mudslides in higher terrain. Over a foot of rain is possible for these island areas into next week.

Tropical Storm Fiona (WPLG)

Beyond Fiona, NHC is highlighting a disturbance in the central Atlantic, but it’ll be moving northward and is no threat to us back here in the U.S.

Atlantic tropics (WPLG)

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.