Tropical Storm Bonnie hasn’t quite formed yet, but that isn’t stopping authorities from issuing Hurricane Watches which are now in effect for portions of Central America. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) writes in their latest update that the system has changed little in organization today, and in fact, has taken on a more elongated appearance. Right now, most of the heavier showers and stronger winds are occurring in a long band over the northern portion of the disturbance.
Reports from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft in the area have indicated no change in strength nor organization. High-resolution visible satellite images from the GOES-East satellite suggest that the system may be trying to close off a center to the south of the ABC Islands, but the surface observations are still not very conclusive. The NHC adds that RADAR images from Curacao also do not yet show a definite center. Nevertheless, the NHC warns that the system could make the transition to a tropical cyclone at any time.
In fact, the NHC expects this system to not only become a tropical storm, but it is also possible it may grow into a hurricane too. Once the system develops into a tropical storm, the NHC will name it Bonnie. On the latest official NHC hurricane track, the storm is expected to move beyond the ABC Islands and head west into Central America.
Due to the forecast track, the government of Nicaragua has issued a Hurricane Watch for the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua from the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border northward to Laguna de Perlas, and a Tropical Storm Watch from north of Laguna de Perlas to Sandy Bay Sirpi. Additionally, the government of Costa Rica has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica from Limon northward to the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border.
These new watches and warnings join the Tropical Storm Warning that is already in effect for the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, a portion of the coast of Venezuela from the Peninsula de Paraguana westward to the Colombia/Venezuela border including the Gulf of Venezuela, and a portion of the coast of Colombia from the Colombia/Venezuela border westward to Santa Marta.
Each watch/warning has different meanings. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 24 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
The NHC believes the system will remain a strong as it crosses Central America into the Eastern Pacific Basin. If that happens, it is expected to retain its name.