Tropical disturbance shows better organization over Caribbean; forecast to become

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

“However, low cloud motions from high-resolution visible satellite images and Curacao radar observations suggest that the system still does not have a closed circulation,” said Richard Pasch, NHC hurricane specialist. “Some strengthening seems likely, but the interaction with the land mass of South America will probably limit intensification for the next day or so.”

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate this afternoon. It could very well identify a closed circulation and 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 2 p.m. advisory Wednesday said heavy rains and tropical-storm-force winds are likely to begin late tonight and through Thursday morning for the Windward Islands and parts of northern Venezuela and northern Colombia for what meteorologists call Potential Tropical Cyclone Two.

The system is located about 85 miles east-southeast of Curacao, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph moving west at 24 mph, as of the 2 p.m. update. 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,” 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.

As of 2 p.m., 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 60 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 southern Caribbean Sea and the northern coast of Venezuela today, near the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia early Thursday, and over the southwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday,” the NHC.

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.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter plane was deployed to investigate the disturbance further.

“It could become a short-lived tropical depression near the coast before it moves inland,” the NHC said. “Regardless of development, heavy rain will be possible along portions of the Texas coast later this week.”

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.

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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