Tropical disturbance shows better organization over Caribbean; forecast to become Tropical Storm Bonnie soon

A tropical disturbance in the Caribbean is showing better organization Wednesday afternoon and could soon be classified as Tropical Storm Bonnie soon, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“High-resolution visible satellite images suggest that the system may trying to close off a center to the south of the ABC Islands, but the surface observations are still not very conclusive,” wrote Richard Pasch, a senior hurricane specialist with the NHC. “Radar images from Curacao also do not yet show a definite center. The system could make the transition to a tropical cyclone at any time.”

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A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Hurricane Hunter aircraft investigated the system Wednesday afternoon, but did not find it organized enough to designate the disturbance as a tropical storm. Forecasts call for the storm to strengthen slightly, but no powerful intensification 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 11 p.m. advisory Wednesday said heavy rains and tropical-storm-force winds are likely to occur through Thursday morning for the Windward Islands and parts of northern Venezuela and northern Colombia.

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The system is located about 65 miles east-southeast of the northern tip of Guajira Peninsula of Colombia , with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph moving west at 21 mph, as of the 11 p.m. update. Tropical storm warnings have been discontinued for Curacao and Aruba.

While the system has remained unorganized, hurricane specialists suspect that could change in the next 12 hours.

“One reason the system has been unable to close off a circulation so far is the very rapid speed,” NHC’s Eric Blake said. But models show the disturbance stabilizing in the evening. Then, the system should hold off from intensifying for two days. By Friday, it could jump in strength again, Blake said.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in place for Trinidad and Tobago; Grenada and its dependencies and parts of the Colombian coasts. As it continues west, the system is expected to be near or over Nicaragua Friday night.

The system has tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 70 miles from the system’s center. If it becomes named, it would be Tropical Storm Bonnie. The NHC gives it a 90% chance for formation in the next five days.

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

Meteorologists are also keeping their eyes on two other disturbances with odds of becoming a tropical system.

An area of disturbance has increased its showers and thunderstorms overnight and over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. More development is possible, but the system currently remains disorganized. The NHC gives it a 40% chance of forming into a tropical system in 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 inland of Texas Thursday.

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An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter plane deployed to investigate showed the system was poorly organized.

“Some slow development is still possible and it could become a short-lived tropical depression near the coast before it turns northwestward and moves inland over Texas later on Thursday. Regardless of development, heavy rain will be possible along portions of the Texas coast for the next few days,” the NHC said.

Also, a tropical wave over the central tropical Atlantic is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms. The wave is expected to come into contact with another tropical wave later this week and could develop. The NHC gave the wave a 10% chance of becoming a depression in the next two days and 30% in the next five days.

If any of the systems develop, they would be the season’s second system 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 named a tropical depression without growing to tropical-storm status. It doesn’t become named until the system has sustained winds of 39 mph and isn’t named a hurricane until it has sustained winds of 74 mph.

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The 2022 season runs from June 1-Nov. 30 is predicted to be another above-normal year for storms following the 30 named storms of 2020 and 21 of 2021.

Jpedersen@orlandosentinel.com

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