Storm Team 4

Hurricane Fiona Churns North as Category 4 Storm, Expected to Intensify: NHC

Fiona strengthened to a category 4 hurricane with max sustained winds of 130 mph, and it could intensify further, the National Hurricane Center says. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic face devastating floods

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Hurricane Fiona strengthened to a monster Category 4 storm early Wednesday, becoming the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season after devastating Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with feet of rain and catastrophic flooding.

The brutal system thrashed Turks and Caicos for most of the day Tuesday, and the National Hurricane Center says Fiona is expected to strengthen through Wednesday night, with some fluctuations in intensity possible through Thursday.

As of NHC's 11 a.m. update, the center of Fiona was about 675 miles southwest of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning have been issued there ahead of the storm's expected arrival late Thursday.

Fiona is expected to stay a hurricane-force cyclone through Saturday, and parts of Canada along the Atlantic, though, are being advised to monitor the storm's progress.

Hurricane-force and tropical-force winds extend outward up to 45 and 160 miles, respectively, from the center.

Impacts going forward aren't expected to be as severe as they were in Puerto Rico, which just marked the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which blasted the U.S. territory as a category 5 storm and killed more than 3,000 people.

Communities in southern parts of Puerto Rico were inundated again Monday with torrential rain and wild winds, amounting to more than 2 feet of water in spots as the threat of deadly mudslides loomed. Lago Cerillos, not far from Ponce, where Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico ahead of a second landfall in the Dominican Republic a day later, saw nearly 3 feet of fain. The National Hurricane Center says parts of Puerto Rico could see 35 inches, ultimately.

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico ahead of the storm, while the governor of Puerto Rico, as the worst of it hit, described "catastrophic" damages as the island plunged into darkness.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

As of now, it poses no threat to any part of the mainland U.S., although large swells will bring high surf to tri-state area beaches by the end of the week. People in coastal areas are advised to be wary of rip currents as well.

Pictures: Hurricane Fiona Floods Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos

Eighty percent of Puerto Rico is still in the dark following hurricane Fiona. Gaby Acevedo reports.

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