In hurricane and typhoon season, the Caribbean and Japan suffer from the ravages of nature

This Sunday, the eye of Hurricane Fiona reached southwestern Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour, causing, among much other damage, a total power outage across the entire island. Meanwhile in Japan, the super typhoon known as Nanmadol has reached the southern part of the country with the threat of dangerous floods and some rivers overflowing.

As reported by the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC), Storm Fiona became a hurricane before reaching the coast of Puerto Rico. The eye of the hurricane, the third cyclone of the Atlantic season, made landfall near Puerto Tocón at 3:20 p.m. local time.

According to the NHC, Fiona is a Category 1 of 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale and could cause severe flooding along the eastern and southern coasts of Puerto Rico, as well as the islands of Vieques and Culebra.

“These rains will pose an extreme risk of life-threatening flooding, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the island,” the NHC said, adding “very dangerous winds.”

The agency expects Fiona to be in the Dominican Republic on Monday and then continue to the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday.

This year’s hurricane season, which began on June 1 and ends on November 30, saw the formation of Hurricanes Daniel, Earl and Fiona and Tropical Storms Alex, Bonnie and Colin.

Meanwhile, the NHC has lifted the hurricane warning for the US Virgin Islands.

Fiona’s First Chaos

A flooded road is seen during the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico, on September 18, 2022. Fiona reached Puerto Rico at 3:20 p.m. local time (7:20 GMT), according to the US National Weather Service. Hurricane Center (NHC), leaving total blackout and overflowing rivers. AFP – MELVIN PEREIRA

As the hurricane moves northwest across the island, more than 45 percent of the country is without power, affecting more than 665,000 customers out of a total of 1.4 million, according to LUMA Energy, the company responsible for the transmission and distribution of electricity in Puerto Rico.

The company also announced that it “may take several days” to fully restore service.

“As a result of severe weather, including 130km/h winds from Hurricane Fiona, the electricity system suffered several transmission line outages, contributing to an island-wide blackout,” LUMA said on Twitter.

Puerto Rico’s power grid is constantly out, especially since the passage of Category 5 Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island five years ago and destroyed most of its power grid, causing extended blackouts for months.

Similarly, in April of this year, Puerto Rico experienced a total blackout for several days due to a power plant fire.

Puerto Ricans seek asylum

Authorities said they had set up 98 shelters in nearly every municipality on the island and that they had the capacity to serve up to 75,000 people as Fiona continued its journey.

“We ask our people to stay in their homes and seek shelter if they are in areas that are prone to landslides or flooding,” Governor Pedro Pierluisi told a news conference.

Pierluisi declared a state of emergency and requested a federal emergency declaration from Washington, which was approved by President Joe Biden this Sunday.

The governor also announced the cancellation of public school classes on Monday and asked Puerto Ricans to avoid the streets and reduce travel while Fiona remains on the island.

The hurricane also affected operations at the island’s airports, causing all flights to be canceled while seaports remained closed from Saturday until further notice.

The Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are preparing for the hurricane’s arrival

The government of the Dominican Republic declared Monday a public holiday and announced the suspension of classes in all schools and universities in the country for two days until Fiona’s fury passed.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands have issued a hurricane warning to kick-start evacuation plans as Fiona’s arrival is “imminent”, according to the NHC.

“Therefore, we are asking residents of low-lying areas to prepare for hurricane conditions that are expected to occur around Tuesday morning,” said Jeffrey Simmons, acting director of the Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

Japan is feeling the devastation of Typhoon Nanmadol

On the other side of the world, in Japan, the powerful typhoon Nanmadol hit the island of Kyushu, in the southwestern part of the country, this Sunday. About 20,000 people were evacuated and power cuts were reported as the risk of overflowing rivers and canals increased, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Previously, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) classified Nanmadol as “very strong”, in addition to guaranteeing that it was a typhoon of “unprecedented” ferocity. Winds of about 230 kilometers per hour were reported over Kagoshima, a city of about 600,000.

It is the first time the JMA has issued a maximum alert for one of the four main islands of the archipelago, which remains subject to strong winds, rainfall and waves that the agency says are unprecedented in Japan.

The JMA expects Nanmadol to circle the island of Kyushu, one of the country’s most important islands, before passing Tokyo on Tuesday, weakened, before ending its tour of the island when it reaches the ocean on Wednesday.

A man walks along the street under heavy rain and winds caused by Typhoon Nanmadol in Kagoshima, on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, on Sept. 18, 2022, in this photo taken by Kyodo.
A man walks along the street under heavy rain and winds caused by Typhoon Nanmadol in Kagoshima, on Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, on Sept. 18, 2022, in this photo taken by Kyodo. © Kyodo via Reuters

Authorities recommended that about 7 million residents in various areas of Kyushu seek safe places, preferably high places with solid construction, or go to shelter centers if they do not have the optimal conditions to withstand the typhoon.

Nanmadol is the 14th typhoon this season, which ends in October, and has already caused material damage in southern Kyushu.

Meanwhile, grocery stores, schools and universities in the area remain closed, and flights and train travel are cancelled.

With EFE and Reuters

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