Tropical Storm Bonnie forms and heads toward Central America

Tropical Storm Bonnie forms and heads toward Central America
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The disturbance that meteorologists have been tracking for more than a week across the Atlantic and Caribbean has finally earned a name. The National Hurricane Center stated that Tropical Storm Bonnie formed at 11 a.m. Friday about 195 miles east-southeast of Nicaragua.

The storm is heading west at 20 mph and is forecast to make landfall near the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica on Friday night, where tropical storm warnings are in effect.

“Heavy rain is likely in parts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica today through Saturday. Areas of life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides are expected,” the National Hurricane Center wrote.

Bonnie is one of three tropical system forecasters they have been monitoring. One disturbance, which formed in the western Gulf of Mexico, has already moved over the upper Texas coast and southwestern Louisiana. Although it didn’t organize enough to become a named storm, it has dumped torrential rain north of Houston.

A third disturbance, immediately after Bonnie, has a 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm over the weekend. But it is expected to bring torrential rain from Friday to Saturday in the Windward Islands, which link the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

Bonnie, the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed 16 days before the average. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Projects a busier-than-normal season, with 14 to 21 named storms, including six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). The Atlantic season typically peaks in late August and September.

Details on Tropical Storm Bonnie

Bonnie is a minimal tropical storm, with 40 mph winds. The Hurricane Center forecasts moderate strengthening before landfall, when maximum winds could reach 50 mph.

While such winds will be quite gusty and could cause downed trees and power outages, the main danger is heavy rain as the storm moves through Central America.

The Hurricane Center projects 4 to 8 inches of rain and localized amounts of up to a foot in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Bonnie could also generate a minor ocean surge, or rise in water 1 to 3 feet above normally dry land near and just north of where its center makes landfall.

After passing through Central America, Bonnie is expected to emerge into the Pacific Ocean, where it is forecast to gain strength and potentially become a hurricane early next week. However, it is not expected to threaten land.

According to tropical climate researcher Phil Klotzbach, Bonnie is something of an oddity, among one of six named storms on record that formed in the Caribbean during July.

Texas-Louisiana Tropical Storm

Meanwhile, the disturbance that has formed over the western gulf is bringing a flood threat from around Galveston, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Friday.

flood watch cover this entire area during the afternoon or evening. As of noon, the heaviest rain had moved north of Houston and Galveston, but was drenching the Golden Triangle area, which includes Beaumont and Port Arthur, where flash flood warnings are in effect until 3:45 p.m.

“4 to 8 inches of rain has fallen,” the National Weather Service wrote. Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are possible in the advisory area. Flash flooding is already occurring with several reports of street flooding received from Port Arthur and surrounding areas.”

The Weather Service issued a special bulletin warning that rain rates could exceed three inches per hour at times.

radar showed torrential rain between Beaumont and Lake Charles by noon Friday, but forecast models project the downpours will gradually taper off overnight.

While up to 8 inches had fallen in the Golden Triangle region, most areas of Houston had seen about a tenth of an inch. The rain skirted much of inland Texas, which is enduring extreme drought and unrelenting heat.

San Antonio had 17 triple-digit hot days in June. The norm is two.

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