Tropical Storm Bonnie Makes Her Debut
Hi everybody, this is Dr. Rob Carver filling in for Jeff on the late shift.
Based on information from Hurricane Hunters, the National Hurricane Center upgraded TD Three to Tropical Storm Bonnie. As of the 11PM EDT advisory, Bonnie was at 23.4N, 76.5W which is 285 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. Bonnie has maximum winds of 40 mph, a minimum central pressure of 1007 mb, and is moving to the northwest at 14 mph. Bonnie will pass over the Everglades/Florida Keys Friday and cross into the Gulf of Mexico Friday night/early Saturday morning. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for both Florida coasts south of Lake Okeechobee to Key West.
Fig. 1 IR satellite image of Tropical Storm Bonnie at 1216AM EDT.
NHC is expecting 2-4 inches of rain over south Florida due to Bonnie and 3-5 inches over the Bahamas. They are forecasting a storm surge of 1-2 feet. Tropical storm force winds are expected in the Bahamas starting Thursday night, and they are forecast to arrive in southern Florida Friday morning.
Impacts and Emergency Preparedness
As of 1130PDT EDT, the Key West NWS office is indicating that there are no evacuation orders in effect or planned for Monroe County (the Keys). Small craft are being advised to stay in port and be well secured to their docks. Two shelters will be opened, Key West High School and Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon.
Most of the ships at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site and other skimming ships have been ordered to seek safe harbor. In the statement, Adm. Allen said ships that operate the ROVs will be the last out and the first back to keep the wellhead observations going as long as possible.
The track models and ensemble models show remarkably good agreement for Bonnie's path across south Florida and towards southeast Louisiana. The current intensity forecast calls for Bonnie to maintain strong tropical storm force winds (40-50 knots) until it makes landfall in Louisiana, with a 15% chance of becoming a hurricane before then. However, the global models (GFS, Canadian GEM, NOGAPS) and the hurricane dynamical models (GFDL, Navy GFDL, and HWRF) do not intensify Bonnie at all. The statistical models (SHIPS and LGEM) support the intensity forecast.
I'm inclined to take the predictions of global and dynamical models with a large grain of salt. When I reviewed the latest model runs (18Z and 12Z), it was apparent that none of the models had a good initialization of Bonnie's structure. Bonnie has a relatively small circulation, so it's easy for the models' initialization to act like there isn't much of a storm there. Without accurate starting conditions, any model will have trouble producing an accurate forecast. NHC has a good summary of the different forecast models they use.
Jeff will have an update sometime Friday morning.