Warning over Hurricane Fiona storm surge as island now on hurricane watch
A hurricane watch is now in effect for Bermuda and Fiona has now been upgraded to a Category 4 storm, the Bermuda Weather Service said this morning.
The storm is still expected to pass more than 100 miles to the island’s northwest early on Friday morning, but the Government has issued a warning about possible flooding due storm surge and said it could also bring hurricane force winds to Bermuda.
And those in the western part of the island and areas prone to flooding are being urged to make preparations ahead of time.
As of 9am, the storm is expected to make its closest point of approach at about 6am on Friday as it moves 116 miles to the island’s northwest.
As of 9am, the storm was 698 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and moving north at 8 mph.
The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that this morning the storm boasted maximum sustained winds of nearly 130mph with higher gusts.
“Some additional strengthening is forecast through tonight, with some fluctuations in intensity possible on Thursday,” the NOAA report added.
“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.”
Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, held a press conference yesterday evening. He was joined by Steve Cosham, national disaster coordinator, and Michelle Pitcher, Bermuda Weather Service deputy director, following a meeting of the Emergency Measures Organisation.
Another EMO meeting is scheduled for this morning after which the public will be provided with another update on the storm and informed of any disruptions to public services.
Ms Pitcher said: “After 3pm Hurricane Fiona became a Category 3 hurricane and storm surge is likely to be about three feet.
“What this means is that low lying areas will be more prone to flooding and we should expect more flooding with Fiona than we found with Earl. Seas outside the reef are currently forecast to be reaching 45ft in the western marine area as Fiona passes.
“We cannot rule out the possibility of hurricane force winds, especially in the western marine area, western parishes and in exposed and elevated places at the height of passage.
“There is plenty of time for the forecast to change for better or for worse so please keep up to date with the details. We will be issuing a tropical storm watch this evening.”
Mr Weeks said that the Bermuda Police Service, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Department of Parks, the Ministry of Public Works and Belco are ready for the storm.
He added: “Now is the time to be finalising your preparations. We are anticipating that Fiona will cause some issues for those living in low lying coastal areas who have had flooding in the past. So please, we are urging these residents to take the necessary safety precautions.
“As far as Thursday is concerned, we are assessing public services including public schools, government offices, and buses and ferries.”
Mr Weeks said that considering the deteriorating weather conditions on Thursday evening, businesses that are open in the evening are likely to be impacted.
He said: “We are encouraging businesses to make any necessary plans in preparation for Hurricane Fiona.
“Overall, my key message to the public, is to prepare.
“In respect of the airport and flights, an announcement will be made on Thursday. Travellers should contact their respective airlines to stay abreast of any flight information.
“As we’ve heard from the BWS, we can expect high surf conditions over the next few days.
“Our lifeguards within the Department of Parks will be monitoring our beaches and will be putting high surf signage along public beaches. Please keep out of the water. There will be dangerous surf conditions.
“A specific note about garbage – there will not be trash collection on Friday. This includes recyclables.”
Mr Cosham said: “We know we will be impacted but the storm might change a little bit either towards us or further away.
“We are expecting one to three inches of rain. Those areas that traditionally have some flooding issues during hurricanes should assume they are going to have a similar problem during Hurricane Fiona. Preparations include sandbagging up the doorways.”
In a Facebook post, the BWS said: “Fiona is now the first major Hurricane of the 2022 season.
“Now is the time to start preparations and be mindful of your wind exposure – Hurricane Fiona’s winds will be from the south east through south west (different from the previous storm).
“Are you ready? Stay safe and up to date at www.weather.bm”
Because of the storm’s approach, the 4th annual Carifta triathlon, aquathlon and mixed team relay championship originally scheduled for September 24 and 25 has been postponed due to safety concerns associated with the potential impact of Hurricane Fiona.
The BWS said earlier: “In some past hurricane seasons, one storm’s passage has cooled down the ocean temperatures enough affect the next one. This happens when the next storm moves close to the track of a previous one (eg 2014’s Gonzalo and Fay).
“This is NOT the situation with Hurricane Fiona. Fiona’s track is forecast to move well west of Earl’s old track. While Earl did leave a detectable ‘cold wake’ of cooler ocean temperatures, Hurricane Fiona is forecast to pass over warmer waters to the south west and west of Bermuda.”
Make any small repairs around the home.
Secure outdoor furniture.
Review family plans and update them with any changes to phone numbers and other important information.
Stock up on any medical prescriptions that your family and pets require and ensure you have at least two weeks supply on hand.
Check your hurricane kit to make sure you have working flashlights, a portable radio with spare batteries and a stock of non-perishable food to last your family for seven days.
Ensure your house insurance policy is up to date.
Check on your vulnerable neighbours and ask them if they need any help with their preparations.
Residents are encouraged residents to stay abreast of updates regarding Tropical Storm Fiona by visiting www.weather.bm