Authorities in the Dominican Republic have issued mandatory evacuations for parts of the country as tropical storm Fiona strengthens to a category one hurricane. Civil protection officials have also increased the number of provinces under red and yellow weather alerts, where severe meteorological conditions are expected. Hurricane Fiona is forecast to hit the Dominican Republic later today.
The number of provinces on red alert has increased to 13 as strong wind, rain, and lighting are forecast to affect most of the Dominican Republic later today and Monday. The information comes as the National Centre for Emergency Operations (COE) continues to monitor the category one hurricane, which is expected to continue strengthening over the next 12 to 24 hours.
Many of the country’s popular resort destinations, including La Altagracia (Punta Cana), La Romana, Puerto Plata, as well as the capital Santo Domingo have all been put on red alert. The number of yellow-alert provinces has also expanded and now includes La Vega, Santiago, Monsenor Nouel, and Sánchez Ramírez, among others. Most western provinces remain on green alert.
According to an emergency notice from Sunday morning, hurricane Fiona’s center was located 119 kilometers southeast of Puerto Rico and around 300 kilometers southeast of Saona island in the eastern Dominican Republic. The hurricane is moving north/northwest at a speed of around 13 kilometers per hour.
Heavy rain, strong winds, flash flooding, and landslides are likely across all provinces under red and yellow alerts. Meteorologists are forecasting precipitation levels to reach between 100 and 250 millimeters in the most affected regions, with up to 400 millimeters in mountainous parts of the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, winds of up to 130 kilometers per hour can topple trees, damage buildings, and cause blackouts which may last from a few hours up to several days.
The hurricane is expected to sweep through the northern coast of the Dominican Republic later tonight and throughout Monday, with weather conditions forecast to gradually improve on Tuesday.
Authorities have announced new measures, effective immediately, including prohibiting the use of beaches in the entire country, as well as any type of recreational mountain activities and outdoor aquatic sports. Residents and tourists are also barred from accessing rivers, canals, and streams in the Dominican Republic until further notice due to the high risk of flash floods.
The Dominican Republic government has activated emergency hurricane protocols to safeguard residents in hard-hit areas, which include all eastern provinces in the country. Residents and visitors are also being asked to closely follow updates from authorities as the hurricane makes its way across the Caribbean.
Earlier today Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader instructed civil defense authorities to begin obligatory evacuations in the 13 vulnerable provinces that are expected to see the most severe weather. Evacuations are also being mandated for parts of provinces under yellow alert, which total 9.
Earlier this week, authorities issued the first warnings for tropical storm Fiona. At the time, meteorologists were unsure whether the storm would become a hurricane, urging residents and tourists to remain cautious. With the storm now reaching hurricane-strength winds, officials have mobilized emergency response plans which include evacuations.
Tourists in the country should stay indoors and follow their hotel or resort’s hurricane protocols, as well as follow instructions from authorities which may include evacuations to a safer location. The government has designated 300 schools, 32 churches, and 50 canteens around the country as temporary shelters. Visitors can consult the National Emergency Operations Centre’s website for updates on evacuations and weather-related warnings.
Fiona is the third hurricane to affect the Dominican Republic during this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.
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