Hurricane Fiona

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Hurricane Fiona
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Fiona 2022-09-22 1750Z.jpg
Hurricane Fiona near peak intensity southwest of Bermuda on September 22
FormedSeptember 14, 2022
DissipatedSeptember 25, 2022
(Extratropical after September 24)
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 130 mph (215 km/h)
Lowest pressure932 mbar (hPa); 27.52 inHg
Fatalities27 total
Damage> $400 million (2022 USD)
Areas affectedLesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Lucayan Archipelago, Bermuda, Eastern Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon[1][2]
Part of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Fiona was a powerful and long-lived tropical cyclone which caused widespread damage over portions of the Caribbean and Eastern Canada. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in recorded history to affect Canada in 19 years. The sixth named storm, third hurricane and first major hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, Fiona developed from a tropical wave that emerged from West Africa, before developing into a tropical depression east of the Leeward Islands on September 14. On September 15, it was assigned the name Fiona, even though dry air and moderate to strong wind shear impacted the system. On September 16, it passed Guadeloupe as it entered the Caribbean Sea, and strengthened into a hurricane as it approached Puerto Rico two days later. A few hours afterward, the eye of Fiona made landfall along the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico, near Punta Tocon, between the municipalities of Lajas and Cabo Rojo at 19:20 UTC, according to the National Hurricane Center.[3] The hurricane made landfall in the Dominican Republic shortly thereafter, and then strengthened into the first major hurricane of the season. As the storm slowly moved through the Turks and Caicos, it continued to strengthen and reached Category 4 status the following day, while accelerating north. The storm, after undergoing eyewall replacement cycles, reached peak 1-minute sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h) and a minimum pressure of 932 hPa (27.52 inHg).

As the first island hit by the storm, Guadeloupe received near-record rainfall over the French territory, leaving 40% of the population without water for a few days. In Puerto Rico, the worst flooding since Maria in 2017 was felt throughout the Territory, and an island-wide blackout occurred. A third of the Territory's population was left without water, and at least 21 people have died there. In the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos, heavy rainfall and flooding pounded the Caribbean countries, along with heavy winds.

Fiona was the strongest cyclone recorded in Canada, based on atmospheric pressure.[4]

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale
Map key
  Tropical depression (≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h)
  Tropical storm (39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h)
  Category 1 (74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h)
  Category 2 (96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h)
  Category 3 (111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h)
  Category 4 (130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h)
  Category 5 (≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h)
  Unknown
Storm type
▲ Extratropical cyclone / Remnant low / Tropical disturbance / Monsoon depression

Early on September 12, the NHC began to monitor a tropical wave over the central tropical Atlantic for gradual development, though environmental conditions for development were assessed as only marginally favorable.[5] Even so, shower and thunderstorm activity within the disturbance began to become more concentrated later that same day,[6] then increased and became better organized during the next day.[7] The circulation associated with the system became more defined and persisted overnight and into the morning of September 14, attaining sufficient organization to designated as Tropical Depression Seven later that day.[8] Despite the continued effects of moderate westerly shear and dry mid-level air flow,[9] new satellite imagery indicated the depression had strengthened, thus at 01:45 UTC on September 15, it became Tropical Storm Fiona.[10]

Hurricane Fiona approaching Puerto Rico and Hispaniola on September 18

The storm passed just north of Guadeloupe on September 16, as it entered the eastern Caribbean.[11] Early on September 18, the storm strengthened into a hurricane as it approached Puerto Rico.[12] A few hours later, the eye of Fiona made landfall along the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico near Punta Tocon between the municipalities of Lajas and Cabo Rojo at 19:20 UTC on September 18, with maximum sustained winds of 75 knots (85 mph; 140 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 986 mbar (29.12 inHg), according to the National Hurricane Center.[3] The storm emerged over the Mona Passage and strengthened slightly further before making landfall in the Dominican Republic near Boca de Yuma around 07:30 UTC the next morning, with maximum sustained winds of 80 knots (90 mph; 150 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 977 mbar (28.85 inHg).[13] Fiona weakened slightly over land, but after emerging off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and back over the Atlantic Ocean, it began to intensify again, reaching Category 2 intensity at 21:00 UTC on September 19.[14]

It then reached Category 3 intensity at 06:00 UTC the next morning, becoming the first major hurricane of the season.[15] Gradual strengthening continued and Fiona became a Category 4 hurricane at 06:00 UTC September 21.[16] By 00:00 UTC on September 23, Fiona attained a minimum central pressure of 932 mb (27.5 inHg) at 30.8°N, the lowest such value at this latitude over the North Atlantic Ocean since at least 1979.[17][18] Fiona then weakened slightly, dropping to Category 3 status at 09:00 UTC,[19] but restrengthened back to Category 4 strength six hours later;[20] at that time, with a central pressure of 936 mbar (27.6 inHg) or lower, the storm was also the most intense Category 4 Atlantic hurricane on record at such a northerly latitude.[21] Six hours later, as it began interact with a mid- to upper-level trough, Fiona began to weaken again and accelerated to the north-northeast at 40 miles per hour (64 km/h),[22] and subsequently became a post-tropical cyclone. By 07:00 UTC on September 24, the center of ex-Fiona made landfall on the Canso Peninsula, Nova Scotia, near Whitehead; based on observations from a nearby weather station at Hart Island and the East Chedabucto Bay buoy, the central pressure at the time was estimated to have been 931.6 mbar (27.51 inHg), the lowest measured on record in association with a landfalling post-tropical cyclone in Canada, and likely a new national record from any storm pending verification.[23][24][25] Wind gusts across Nova Scotia recorded figures in excess of 160 km/h (99 mph), with Arisaig recording a peak of 179 km/h (111 mph).[24] Extremely large waves reached the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia late September 24. Buoy data indicated wave heights of 5 m (16 ft) to 8 m (26 ft). The largest offshore waves were near and east of Fiona's path; this was indicated by satellite data and reports from a buoy over Banquereau Bank where waves averaged 12 m (39 ft) to 15 m (49 ft) with peak waves as high as 30 m (98 ft).[24]

Preparations[edit]

Fiona making landfall in Nova Scotia on September 24

After the naming of Fiona, tropical storm watches were issued for the islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Anguilla.[26] These were raised to tropical storm warnings two advisories later with watches extended south to Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy, and St. Martin.[27] As Fiona moved west, tropical storm watches then warnings were put in place for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Parts of the Dominican Republic also had tropical storm watches put in place.[28][29][30]

On September 17, the first hurricane watches were put in place for Puerto Rico and soon after, the Dominican Republic. By 14:00 UTC the same day, the hurricane watch in Puerto Rico was upgraded to a hurricane warning with the watch extended to the U.S. Virgin Islands.[31][32]

On approach to Atlantic Canada, Fiona's unprecedented strength prompted the Canadian Hurricane Centre to warn residents of "heavy rainfall" and powerful "hurricane force winds". The centre also called the event "severe".[33] Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the storm will be one that "everybody remembers".[34]

Impact[edit]

Impact by country or region
County/Region Deaths Damage (USD) Ref.
Guadeloupe 1 Un­known [35]
Dominica 0 Un­known
Puerto Rico 21 $100 million [36][37]
Dominican Republic 2 Un­known [37]
Turks and Caicos 0 Un­known
Bermuda 0 Un­known
Canada 3 >$700 million [38][39][40][41]
Total 27 >$400 million

At least 27 deaths have been confirmed throughout the Caribbean and Canada from Hurricane Fiona as of September 27.

Guadeloupe[edit]

Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Guadeloupe
Highest-known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref.
Rank mm in
1 582 22.91 Luis 1995 Dent de l'est (Soufrière)
2 534 21.02 Fiona 2022 Saint-Claude [42]
3 508 20.00 Marilyn 1995 Saint-Claude [43]
4 466 18.35 Lenny 1999 Gendarmerie [44]
5 389 15.31 Hugo 1989
6 318 12.52 Hortense 1996 Maison du Volcan [45]
7 300 11.81 Jeanne 2004 [46]
8 223.3 8.79 Cleo 1964 Deshaies [43]
9 200 7.87 Erika 2009 [47]
10 165.3 6.51 Earl 2010 Sainte-Rose (Viard) [48]

Guadeloupe received large amounts of rain, at a rate of more than 150 mm per hour in some places where the rivers washed away roads and bridges, and one person died when his house was washed away in the floods near the Rivière des Pères in the district of Basse-Terre. Firefighters carried out 130 interventions and 23 people were rescued. The cyclonic swell reached 2 to 4 meters and the gusts exceeded 90 km/h with a peak of 105 km/h at Baie-Mahault and 98 km/h at Anse-Bertrand.[35] The minister Jean-François Carenco declared area of natural disaster September 22.

Puerto Rico[edit]

Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Puerto Rico
Highest-known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref.
Rank mm in
1 1,058.7 41.68 Hurricane #15 (1970) Jayuya 1 SE [43]
2 962.7 37.90 Maria 2017 Caguas [49]
3 845.6 33.29 Eloise 1975 Dos Bocas [43]
4 804.4 31.67 Isabel 1985 Toro Negro Forest [50]
5 796.0 31.34 Fiona 2022 Ponce [51]
6 775.0 30.51 Georges 1998 Jayuya [43]
7 751.8 29.60 San Felipe II 1928 Adjuntas [52]
8 662.2 26.07 Hazel 1954 Toro Negro Tunnel [53]
9 652.5 25.69 Klaus 1984 Guavate Camp [43]
10 596.4 23.48 Hortense 1996 Cayey 1 NW [43]

On September 18, Hurricane Fiona caused a power outage in the entirety of Puerto Rico.[54] The winds from the storm covered the entire island bringing heavy rainfall.[54] That day, U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency over the hurricane.[55] A flash flood warning was declared on September 19.[56] Roads were stripped of pavement due to Fiona's torrential rainfall, roofs were torn off houses, and at least one bridge was completely washed away. A million people, about 33% of the population, were left without drinking water. Two days after the storm, less than 10% of customers had their power restored. A gauge near Ponce measured 31.34 inches of rain (796 millimeters),[57] while winds gusted to as high as 113 mph (165 km/h).[58] Many landslides were recorded throughout the island.[59] Many crops were destroyed, and agriculture secretary Ramón González Beiró forecast a roughly $100 million loss this year.[60][61]

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency over the storm on September 18, 2022, and all flights to and from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport were canceled.[62] On the same day, the effects of Fiona's massive rainfall cut off all of the power in Puerto Rico.[63] At least sixteen deaths in Puerto Rico have been attributed to the hurricane.[37]

Dominican Republic[edit]

The eye of Hurricane Fiona made landfall along the coast of the Dominican Republic near Boca de Yuma at 07:30 UTC on September 19.[64] It was the first hurricane to make landfall in the country in 18 years.[65]

President Luis Abinader declared state of emergency in five southeastern provinces and three northeastern provinces and visited La Altagracia, El Seibo and Hato Mayor — the most damaged provinces — on 20 September 2022.[66] Over one million people were left without running water and another 350,000 in the country were left without electricity in the country after Fiona had passed.[67][68] Widespread rainfall totals of 8–16 inches (200–410 mm) drenched the country.[58] At least 2 people were killed[68] and over 8,300 homes were destroyed in the Dominican Republic.[69]

Turks and Caicos[edit]

Fiona's eye passed through the Grand Turks island, severely affecting the telecommunications in the archipelago.[70] At least 40% of the territory was left without electricity, with total blackouts reported in North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay. 30% of Providenciales experienced power outages.[71] Moderate damage and no deaths were reported.[70]

Bermuda[edit]

Passing west of the island, Fiona's large size produced sustained tropical storm-force winds over Bermuda for several hours; the L.F. Wade International Airport near Hamilton reported a gust of 93 mph (150 km/h).[72] Over 80% of the island lost power.[73]

Eastern Canada[edit]

Fiona affected the four provinces of Atlantic Canada, as well as Quebec.[74] The storm caused major flooding in Quebec's Magdalen Islands, southeastern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, northeastern Nova Scotia, and southern Newfoundland.[75] Hundreds of trees were knocked down and uprooted in Nova Scotia from Halifax eastward, as well as most of southeastern New Brunswick, most of P.E.I., and some parts in Newfoundland.

Winds of 177 km/h (110 mph) were reported in Wreckhouse, Newfoundland and Labrador, with a record high water height (before waves) of 2.73 meters in Channel-Port aux Basques.[76] At least 20 homes were washed away in Newfoundland, primarily in Channel-Port aux Basques.

Fiona left more than 500,000 people without power, including 80% of all Nova Scotia customers and 95% of PEI customers.[77][78]

A Port aux Basques woman was killed when her home was destroyed and she was swept into the ocean; another person died of carbon monoxide poisoning while operating an electrical generator in Prince Edward Island.[38][79][39] Another man in Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia was swept out to sea and presumed dead.[40]

Fiona is the "deepest low-pressure system ever to be recorded on Canadian soil", with a pressure of 932.6 millibars.[80]

Teacup Rock, a rock formation and local tourist attraction on the coast near Thunder Cove, Prince Edward Island, was destroyed after Hurricane Fiona struck.[81]

On September 25, Deputy Premier of Quebec Geneviève Guilbault flew to the Magdalen Islands to view the storm damage.[82]

Insured losses from Fiona in Canada are estimated to be between $300 and 700 million USD, which would make it the costliest hurricane in Canadian history.[83]

Aftermath[edit]

Puerto Rico[edit]

At least 670 people were rescued from impacted sites following Fiona's deluge.[84] U.S. President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for the island, allowing funding for search and rescue, debris removal, and shelter and food among other accommodations for a month.[85] Damage and debris left from Fiona disallowed rescuers and officials from entering affected areas. By September 22, 470 people and 48 pets remained in shelters.[59] Biden's disaster declaration also allowed FEMA to assist survivors in 55 municipalities and for public assistance in all 78 of them. 7 million liters of water, 4 million ready-to-eat meals, more than 215 generators, 100,000 tarps, and more were provided in four warehouses around Puerto Rico.[86]

Dominican Republic[edit]

A few days after the hurricane, New York City mayor Eric Adams visited the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. After the visit, he requested a $3.7 billion supplemental bill for emergency and nutritional aid.[87]

See also[edit]

Historic comparisons to Fiona

  • 1893 San Roque hurricane – a Category 3 hurricane that took a similar track to Fiona.
  • Hurricane Ginny (1963) – a Category 2 hurricane that was previously the most intense storm to hit Nova Scotia.
  • Hurricane Hortense (1996) – a Category 4 hurricane which had a near-identical track and intensity to Fiona.
  • Hurricane Juan (2003) – a storm which made landfall in Nova Scotia as a category 2 hurricane, albeit much smaller in size.
  • Hurricane Jeanne (2004) – the last hurricane to make a direct landfall in the Dominican Republic prior to Fiona.
  • Hurricane Igor (2010) – a Category 4 hurricane which became the most destructive hurricane to strike Newfoundland.
  • Hurricane Maria (2017) – a major hurricane which had a similar track to Fiona and made landfall in Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 hurricane, caused catastrophic damage and a total island-wide power outage.

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External links[edit]

  1. ^ O’Hara, Clare; McClearn, Matthew (September 26, 2022). "Insurance claims from Hurricane Fiona could reach $700-million, but flood damage from storm surge won't be covered". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 27, 2022.