Hurricane Fiona intensified into a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, 21 September, after wreaking havoc in the Dominican Republic and the United States territory of Puerto Rico.
Recording wind speeds as high as 215 km per hour, Fiona is now headed toward Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
After making landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday, Fiona caused power outages, flooding, and landslides on the island. It also left up to eight people dead, according to Reuters. In the following days, the storm continued north and battered the Dominican Republic and the British overseas territory, the Turks and Caicos Islands.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, Bermuda, which will see the worst of the storm by late Thursday, isn't expected to face the hurricane head-on.
"Hopefully, the core of the storm will stay west, but it could still jog east and hit Bermuda," Eric Blake, acting branch chief for the NHC in Miami, told Reuters.
However, even if Fiona keeps on its current path, Bermuda will likely see high surf, storm surges, heavy rainfall, and powerful winds.
On late Friday and Saturday, Fiona is expected to reach Canada's Atlantic coast as a "powerful hurricane-force cyclone" and significant impacts from high winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall are becoming "increasingly likely."
"Large swells generated by Fiona are expected to cause dangerous and possibly life-threatening surf and rip current conditions along the east coast of the United States, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Atlantic Canada during the next few days," the NHC said in an advisory.
US Declares Public Health Emergency
The NHC describes a Category 4 hurricane as an event in which "catastrophic damage will occur" and "well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls."
"Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months," its description says.
Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), on Wednesday, declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico due to the severe flooding caused by hurricane Fiona.
Consequently, the HHS has deployed a 15-person health and medical task force from its National Disaster Medical System and a 10-person incident management team to Puerto Rico.
"We will do all we can to assist officials with responding to the impacts of Hurricane Fiona and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support," Becerra wrote on Twitter.
"We are working closely with territory health authorities and our federal partners and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support," he added.
Extreme Weather Events To Become More Frequent
Hurricane Fiona is just one of the many disasters that have increased in intensity. Experts have warned that extreme weather events will now become more frequent.
According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), above-average temperatures have been recorded over the Atlantic Ocean this year, setting the prediction early on for increased activity during this hurricane season.
This season is set to be the seventh consecutive year where above-average activity has been seen. Climate factors have been directly attributed to the change in intensity.
"Climate change will be bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will lead to an increase in further warming. These changes will affect wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report in 2021 noted.
Moreover, oceans, which play a huge factor in managing global temperatures, have absorbed nearly 90 percent of global warming over the last 40 years, according to NASA.
Another climate factor that the NOAA correlates to rising hurricane activity is the increased intensity of the La Nina, which is set to continue throughout the hurricane season.