Waves of about 50 feet were reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a Saildrone sailed in the Atlantic on Thursday.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Bermuda as Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane, approaches, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane conditions are expected in Bermuda starting Thursday night through Friday morning, causing elevated coastal water levels, potential power outages and about two to four inches of rainfall, the center said.
Fiona is also expected to bring “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” to the northeast U.S. coast, the center said.
On Thursday evening, Fiona was located 280 miles southwest of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and was moving north-northeast at 29 mph, the center said. The storm is expected to pass to the west of the island Thursday night before approaching the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on Friday.
While the storm is expected to weaken Friday, Fiona is still forecast to be “a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds” when it hits Canada, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A hurricane watch has been issued for parts of Atlantic Canada, including Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, The Magdalen Islands, and the coast of Newfoundland, according to the center.
Those areas are expected to see three to six inches of rain with local maximums of up to 10 inches, causing potentially significant flooding, the center forecast.
Atlantic Canada is expected to “receive the full brunt of Hurricane Fiona’s impacts this weekend” with some areas at risk for “extreme damage,” AccuWeather said.
“This is the most significant threat for the U.S. mainland we’ve had this hurricane season,” AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.
Most computer models predict the system, Invest 98L, will be a tropical storm by the weekend in the Caribbean. The models show the system strengthening into a hurricane by early next week. If it becomes a named storm, it would be called Hermine. Read more here.
Days after Fiona hit Puerto Rico, about 62% of 1.47 million power customers remained without energy on Thursday, and a third of customers — more than 400,000 — were without water service.
President Joe Biden on Thursday said he is committing the full force of the federal government to help the island recover from Fiona.
“We’re with you. We’re not going to walk away,” Biden said.
Puerto Rico’s Electric Energy Authority Director Josué Colón said areas less affected by Fiona should have power restored early Friday, but officials did not say when other areas would have power back.
As much as 80% of Puerto Rico’s crops were also destroyed by Fiona, including coffee crops that had just reached a successful harvesting peak post-Maria, according to the humanitarian non-governmental organization Mercy Corps.
After destroying roads and bridges and causing mudslides, Fiona has left hundreds of Puerto Ricans stranded as authorities work with religious groups and nonprofits to reach areas isolated by the storm in order to provide vital food, water and medicine.
At least six municipalities have areas cut off by the storm, Nino Correa, commissioner for Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, estimated.