San Juan, Sep 17 (EFE).- Puerto Rico’s governor declared a state of emergency Saturday ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Fiona, which is forecast to reach hurricane strength by the time it makes landfall on the southwestern coast of this United States Commonwealth in the Caribbean.
His administration is also prepared to seek a federal disaster declaration if conditions warrant, Pedro Pierluisi told a press conference in San Juan.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a hurricane warning for Puerto Rico shortly before mid-day Saturday, indicating that the island will begin to experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the US Virgin Island and for coastal areas of the Dominican Republic.
“The forecast is that is becomes a Category 1 hurricane when it makes landfall in southwest Puerto Rico,” the governor said, adding that the storm’s effects will be felt across the island.
As of 15:00 GMT Saturday, Fiona was located 210 km (130 mi) southeast of St. Croix and moving westward at 13 km/h (8 mph), according to the latest bulletin from the NHC.
Maximum sustained winds were 95 km/h (60 mph), but are projected to climb to 120 km/h (75 mph) before Fiona strikes Puerto Rico.
The NHC said that Puerto Rico is likely to receive 12 to 16 inches of rain with totals of up to 20 inches (51 cm) in some spots.
Pierluisi noted that the soil is already saturated from recent heavy rains and he urged people to remain in their homes, while also announcing the imposition of a ban on sales of alcohol starting at 6:00 pm Saturday.
The governor said that authorities have activated 15 of Puerto Rico’s 365 shelters, which are capable of accommodating more than 75,000 people. EFE mv/dr