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Tropical disturbances show better organization over the Caribbean; Forecast to become Tropical Storm Bonnie soon – Orlando Sentinel

Tropical disturbances show better organization over the Caribbean;  Forecast to become Tropical Storm Bonnie soon - Orlando Sentinel
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A tropical disturbance in the Caribbean shows better organization Wednesday afternoon and could soon be reclassified as Tropical Storm Bonnie, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“High-resolution visible satellite imagery suggests the system may be attempting to cordon off a center south of the ABC Islands, but surface observations are still not very conclusive,” wrote Richard Pasch, a senior hurricane specialist at the NHC. “Even radar images from Curacao do not yet show a clear center. The system could transition to a tropical cyclone at any time.”

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Hurricane Hunter plane surveyed the system Wednesday afternoon but found it was not organized enough to call the disturbance a tropical storm. Forecasts call for the storm to strengthen slightly but not sharply intensify until this weekend as it approaches the southwestern Caribbean, where the system could become the first hurricane of the season.

The National Hurricane Center’s 8 p.m. advisory on Wednesday said heavy rain and tropical-storm-force winds are likely to hit the Windward Islands and parts of northern Venezuela and northern Colombia through Thursday morning.

The system is located about 55 miles west-southwest of Curacao, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph moving west at 21 mph, as of the 8 p.m. update. While the system has remained disorganized, hurricane specialists suspect that could change over the next 12 hours.

“One reason the system hasn’t been able to close a loop is that it’s very fast,” said NHC’s Eric Blake. But models show that the disturbance stabilizes in the evening. Then the system should wait two days to intensify. It could bounce back in strength by Friday, Blake said.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Trinidad and Tobago; Grenada and its Dependencies and Parts of the Colombian Coast. Continuing west, the system is expected to be near or over Nicaragua by Friday night.

The system has tropical gale force winds that extend up to 70 miles outward from the center of the system. If named, it would be Tropical Storm Bonnie. The NHC gives it a 90% chance to form over the next five days.

“On the projected track, the system will pass … near the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia early Thursday and over the southwestern Caribbean Sea later on Thursday and Friday,” the NHC said.

Meteorologists are also keeping an eye on two other disturbances that are likely to become a tropical system.

A troubled area has intensified its showers and thunderstorms overnight and over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Further development is possible, but the system remains unorganized at this time. The NHC gives it a 40% chance of evolving into a tropical system over the next two to five days as it slowly drifts west across the northern Gulf of Mexico and toward Texas. It is expected to move to inland Texas on Thursday.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft used to investigate showed the system was poorly organized.

“Slow development is still possible and it could become a short-lived tropical depression near the coast before turning northwest and moving inland over Texas later Thursday. Regardless of development, there will be heavy rain along parts of the Texas coast over the next few days,” the NHC said.

A tropical wave over the central tropical Atlantic also produces disorderly showers and thunderstorms. The wave is expected to make contact with another tropical wave later this week and could develop. The NHC gave the wave a 10% chance of becoming a depression over the next two days and a 30% chance over the next five days.

If either system develops, it would be the second system of the season after Tropical Storm Alex, which dumped nearly a foot of rain over parts of Florida earlier this month.

After Bonnie, the next two names would be Colin and Danielle.

A tropical system could be called a tropical depression without attaining tropical storm status. It will not be named until the system has sustained winds of 39 miles per hour, and will not be designated a hurricane until it has sustained winds of 74 miles per hour.

The 2022 season runs from June 1st to November 11th. The 30th after the 30 named storms of 2020 and the 21st of 2021 are predicted to be another above-average year for storms.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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