Hurricane Fiona expected to strengthen on approach to Bermuda

Hurricane Fiona is forecast to strengthen after moving away from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The NHC said that hurricane conditions are expected in the Turks and Caicos today (20 September).

Fiona was moving toward the northwest near 8 mph and this general motion was expected to continue, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest today and to the north on Wednesday.  

On the forecast track, the NHC predicted that the centre of Fiona would move over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic and emerge over the southwestern Atlantic, with the centre forecast to pass near or to the east of the Turks and Caicos today.

Maximum sustained winds were near 90 mph (150 km/h), on 19 September, with higher gusts.

According to the NHC, “some strengthening is expected during the next few days after the hurricane emerges over the southwestern Atlantic, and Fiona is forecast to become a major hurricane by Wednesday”.

As of 19 September, hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 30 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 150 miles.  

According to a bulletin from Guy Carpenter, later in the week, Fiona should make a turn to the north and northeast as it interacts with the mid-latitude storm track and a frontal system leaving the mainland. This should take Fiona on approach to Bermuda late Thursday into early Friday morning.

Guy Carpenter added that for the longer term approaching next weekend, long range weather models continue to bring Fiona north and east, to possibly affect Atlantic Canada:

“This 5-7 day forecast scenario still carries some uncertainty given the long timescale, and some changes should be expected as the situation evolves. Impacts to the Continental US cannot be ruled out, but appear very improbable given current model guidance.”

The reinsurance broker concurred that some degree of strengthening is likely:

“Over the coming days, Fiona will move into an environment with increasing moisture and lessening wind shear and very warm waters. On this basis, Fiona should continue to gain strength, especially as it moves away from the land masses of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Fiona should gain status as a major hurricane by Wednesday morning.”