Puerto Rico Under Hurricane Watch From Tropical Storm Fiona

HAVANA — Tropical Storm Fiona threatened to dump up to 16 inches (41 centimeters) of rain in parts of Puerto Rico on Saturday as forecasters placed the U.S. territory under a hurricane watch and people braced for potential landslides, severe flooding and power outages.

The hurricane previously struck several eastern Caribbean islands. One person was killed in Guadeloupe. Alexandre Rochatte, the regional prefect, said Saturday that the body had been found by accident on a side road following floods which destroyed a house in Basse-Terre. Over 20 others were saved amid the heavy winds and rain, which left 13,000 customers without power.

Fiona was found approximately 145 miles (220 kilometers) south of St. Croix Saturday morning. Maximum sustained winds were 60 mph (95 km/h). On a route that was expected to cross near Puerto Rico, it was traveling west at 13mph (20 km/h). Forecasters predicted Fiona would be close to hurricane strength by the time it passes Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.

Fiona, a hurricane-prone tropical storm that could sweep through the Dominican Republic this Sunday, is likely to pass by Haiti and Haiti on Monday and Tuesday. There are also possible extreme thunderstorms.

Forecaster issued a hurricane watch for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engaño westward to Cabo Caucedo and for the northern coast from Cabo Engaño westward to Puerto Plata.

Puerto Rico authorities closed theaters, public beaches and museums and opened shelters. They also encouraged people to stay indoors.

“It’s time to activate your emergency plan and contact and help your relatives, especially elderly adults who live alone,” said Dr. Gloria Amador, who runs a nonprofit health organization in central Puerto Rico.

A cruise ship visit was cancelled, and there were several flights from the island to which it is possible. In the east Caribbean islands authorities also cancelled schools and barred people who want to practice aquatic sports after Fiona battered that region.

Authorities on Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean reported wind gusts up to 74 MPH (120 KPH). This would make it a Category 1 hurricane. The Gros Morne region also saw rain fall 9 inches (23 centimeters).

Fiona, which is the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm, was predicted to bring 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain in eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 16 inches (41 centimeters) in isolated spots. For the Dominican Republic rains were expected to reach 4-8 inches (10-20 centimeters), with as much as 12 inches (30 cmimeters) at some places. Life-threatening surf also was possible from Fiona’s winds, forecasters said.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lester in the eastern Pacific was on a projected path that could bring landfall near the Acapulco area on Mexico’s southwestern coast Saturday night.

Lester is expected to continue as a tropical storm up until reaching the Mexican coast. Weather forecasters warn of the dangers of heavy rains.

Late Friday, the storm sustained maximum winds of 45mph (75 km/h). The storm was located 110 miles (170 km) southwest of Acapulco, and moved northwest at 10mph (17 kph).

The tropical storm warning for Puerto Escondido and Zihuatanejo has been issued. Lester was predicted to drop 3 to 6 inches (or 8 to 15 cms) of rain off the coasts in upper Guerrero and Michoacan states. Isolated areas may get 12 to 30 centimeters (30 inches).

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