(Bloomberg) — Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency Saturday as Tropical Storm Fiona barrels toward the US commonwealth and is expected to clip the western tip of the island with hurricane force winds.
The National Hurricane Center put Puerto Rico under a hurricane warning and the US Virgin Islands and parts of the Dominican Republic under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions could develop in the next 48 hours. The storm is packing sustained winds of 60 mph with higher gusts , and is expected to become a hurricane by Sunday as it nears Puerto Rico, the agency said in its latest report.
Fiona is also expected to dump 12 to 16 inches of rain across the island, and flash flood and mudslide warnings are in effect.
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In a press conference, Pierluisi asked the island’s 3.1 million residents to begin sheltering in place Saturday and to stay indoors on Sunday.
Puerto Rico has a notoriously weak electrical grid that never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
On Saturday, even before the storm had arrived in earnest, the island’s private grid operator, Luma Energy, reported that up to 95,000 homes, or about 6.5% of households, were without power.