FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Tropical Storm Bonnie formed Friday morning in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua, forecasters said, and it’s making its way west, where the storm is expected to bring up to 12 inches of rain to parts of Central America before crossing over into the east Pacific.
Bonnie is the second named storm of what experts have predicted will be an exceptionally busy hurricane season with 20 named storms, 10 hurricanes and five major hurricanes in the forecast.
As of 9:15 a.m. Friday, Bonnie is located about 230 miles east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph moving west at 20 mph, according to the NHC.
Prior to developing, Tropical Storm Bonnie slowed down Friday morning, which was important for its development as hurricane specialists believe it was moving too fast to close its circulation and become the next tropical storm.
The NHC said heavy rainfall is possible across Costa Rica on Friday.
“One reason the system has been unable to close off a circulation so far is the very rapid speed,” NHC’s Eric Blake said earlier Friday.
Computer models show hurricane conditions are possible before the system arrives in Nicaragua. As a result, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border, and a Tropical Storm Watch from Limon, Costa Rica, northward to the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border.
Its current forecast track is expected to take it across the southwestern Caribbean through Friday, over southern Nicaragua or northern Costa Rica, and then out over the eastern Pacific Ocean on Saturday.
“The environment for the system looks conducive for strengthening up to landfall,” the NHC said.
Once inland, the system’s wind speeds are expected to reach 65 mph and is expected to weaken over land then re-strengthen out over the Pacific Ocean, the hurricane center said.
“The NHC forecast does not explicitly show the system reaching hurricane strength over the southwestern Caribbean,” the NHC said. “However, since there is a possibility it could strengthen into a hurricane, the hurricane watch is maintained for a portion of the coast of Nicaragua.”
Meteorologists are also keeping their eyes on two other disturbances, one of which has made landfall in South Texas, where it’s expected to drop rain on the region.
Meanwhile, a second system headed in the general direction of the eastern Caribbean and South Florida is fizzling. It is expected to move west-northwest for the next few days, reaching the eastern Caribbean by the weekend.
Further development, however, is unlikely, according to the National Hurricane Center, due to factors such as the presence of storm-shredding wind shear.
No rain impact is expected in South Florida from that system over the long July 4th holiday weekend.
A few strong thunderstorms are possible locally through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated scattered showers are in the forecast, as is typical for South Florida summers.
The next named storm to form after Bonnie would be called Colin.
Hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.