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Hurricane Fiona Slams Into Puerto Rico

hurricane puerto rico 2022
Courtesy Miguel A. Romero Lugo

Published Sep 18, 2022 8:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Sunday, Tropical Storm Fiona strengthened into a hurricane and slammed into the island of Puerto Rico, causing widespread power outages and heavy flooding. 

To protect maritime stakeholders, the U.S. Coast Guard closed all ports in Puerto Rico, St. John and St. Thomas as a precautionary measure. Port Condition Zulu was set at 2200 hours on Thursday night and was still in effect late Sunday. Cargo operations, bunkering and all vessel traffic have been halted, and the ports will reopen after damage assessments and surveys. 

Due to the hazards posed by the storm, several cruise ships adjusted their itineraries in advance. Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has changed its full itinerary for its Sunday sailing, heading for Costa Maya and Cozumel instead of St. Thomas and St. Maarten. 

The hurricane took a heavy toll on shoreside infrastructure. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm may have dumped 12-18 inches of rain across the island, leading to life-threatening flash floods, urban flooding, road damage and landslides. Local maximum rainfall could approach 30 inches in the southeastern quarter of the island. 

Initial damage reports indicate significant impact on road infrastructure, reportedly including the destruction of a bridge which had been rebuilt after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Power transmission company Luma reported a full blackout across the entire island and warned that it could take days to restore power to all communities. 

The storm is headed next for the eastern shores of the Dominican Republic, still packing hurricane-force winds. After landing on Hispaniola, it is expected to curve northeast over the Atlantic Ocean, potentially heading for the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.