Early on Friday, Hurricane Fiona pounded Bermuda with strong gusts and torrential rain as her eye passed less than 200 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean on its path to Eastern Canada.
At 5 a.m. Eastern time, the National Hurricane Center reported that Fiona, the strongest storm of the Atlantic hurricane season thus far, was 155 miles west of Bermuda. Its maximum sustained wind speed was 125 m.p.h. and it was traveling at a speed of 25 mph.
For Bermuda, Nova Scotia, other regions of Atlantic Canada, and Eastern Quebec, where the storm was anticipated to make landfall later on Friday as a “post-tropical” cyclone, a hurricane warning was in force. Fiona’s potential threat to the US East Coast was not anticipated by forecasters.
The Bermuda Weather Service reported that early on Friday, hurricane-force winds were present in several areas of the island, with one gust reaching 100 m.p.h. on the western side. Rainfall of one to three inches was predicted.
According to Belco, Bermuda’s main electrical provider, as of early Friday, about 25,000 people on the entire island were without electricity. The company stated on its website that hurricane-force winds and other storm-related conditions would not let up before its personnel could restore electricity.
According to the Hurricane Center, Fiona was forecast to approach Nova Scotia later on Friday with hurricane-force conditions and bring three to six inches of rain to western Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, as well as maybe up to ten inches in certain places.
As of 3 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, the Canadian government had issued hurricane or tropical storm warnings for sections of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. The government predicted that starting on Saturday morning, there would be torrential rain, hurricane-force gusts, and waves that might reach a height of up to 39 feet in some areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The storm surge from Fiona could bring high water levels and cause strong, harmful waves in Bermuda, officials have warned. In a news conference on Thursday, Michael Weeks, Bermuda’s minister of national security, said that public schools and government offices, which were open on Thursday, will be closed on Friday. He said that emergency shelters will be open.
On Thursday, Bermudans were getting ready for Fiona. Residents of the island, which is thought to be the setting for Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” claimed that life there is difficult during hurricane season.
The 410-year-old town of St. George’s resident and entrepreneur Kristin White noted, “We are a country of storms.” Our bones and blood contain it. Since these buildings were built in the 17th century, I have a good feeling that they will hold up. Knock on rock and cedar.
Prior to the hurricane’s anticipated arrival, salty spray covered cars and the storm’s odor permeated the air. Before the warning to stay home on Thursday night went into effect, business owners boarded up. An official from the government claimed that the island had established a strong system to handle storms, which he claimed had become “more frequent and unquestionably more devastating” over the previous 20 years.
According to Walter Roban, the minister of home affairs, “We have a very tight planning framework that ensures that the majority of our structures are built to hurricane-strength levels, and this has survived the test of time for Bermuda.”
Puerto Rico faced widespread power outages as a result of Fiona, which hit the Caribbean region last week after developing as a tropical storm on September 15. According to poweroutage.us, a website that keeps track of outages, around 928,000 consumers in Puerto Rico still didn’t have energy as of early Friday.
Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro R. Pierluisi, predicted earlier this week that it would take at least a week for his administration to determine the extent of Fiona’s devastation. At a news conference, he declared that the rain in some areas of central, southern, and southeast Puerto Rico had been “catastrophic.”
Fiona has been blamed for at least four fatalities: two in the Dominican Republic, one in Puerto Rico, and one in Guadeloupe, which was hit by the storm on Saturday.
Two other weather systems in the Atlantic were being watched by forecasters: Tropical Storm Gaston, which developed on Tuesday, and a tropical depression, which might develop into Tropical Storm Hermine if it gains much more power.
Early on Friday, Gaston was 165 miles north-northwest of the Azores in the North Atlantic, with 65 mph maximum sustained winds. The Hurricane Center predicted that from Friday night through Saturday, the storm’s center will pass close to or over parts of the Azores. Although a tropical storm warning was in effect for some of the Azores, Gaston was expected to start to diminish over the coming days.
According to the Hurricane Center, the tropical depression was 600 miles east-southeast of Jamaica on Friday morning and was heading west-northwest at a speed of 13 mph.
With only three named storms before September 1 and none in August, the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, got off to a relatively tranquil start. This was the first time since 1997 that this had occurred. With Danielle and Earl, which formed a day apart, storm activity increased in early September.
With each passing year, the connections between hurricanes and climate change have become more obvious. Data indicates that during the past forty years, storm strength has increased globally. Over time, a warmer globe may see bigger hurricanes and more of the most severe storms, however, there may be fewer storms overall as a result of variables like increasing wind shear that may prevent some smaller storms from developing.
Because of the increased water vapor in the warmer atmosphere, hurricanes are also becoming wetter. Storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 delivered significantly more rain than they would have otherwise, according to scientists. The most damaging components of tropical cyclones, storm surges, are also increasing as a result of rising sea levels.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s meteorologists adjusted their prognosis for the remainder of the season in early August, although they continued to call for above-average activity.
According to their predictions, the season might produce 14 to 20 named storms, of which six to ten could intensify into hurricanes with speeds of at least 74 mph. Three to five of those might develop into significant hurricanes, or Category 3 or stronger storms with winds of at least 111 mph, according to the NOAA.
After a record-breaking 30 named storms in 2020, there were 21 storms last year. Meteorologists have run out of names to use to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season for the previous two years, which has only happened once before, in 2005.