Tropical Storm Bonnie, the second named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, developed on July 22 and is currently located approximately 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of Miami in Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Bonnie packs sustained winds of around 40 mph (65 kmph). The storm is traveling in a west-northwest direction and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 hours as the storm slightly strengthens. The NHC said tropical storm-force winds extend 85 miles (150 kilometers) from the center of the storm.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the northwestern Bahamas and parts of Florida (from Deerfield Beach on the east coast to Englewood on the west coast). A tropical storm watch is also in place for parts of the Gulf of Mexico coast, from Destin in Florida west to Morgan City in Louisiana. The NHC said Bonnie could produce 1 to 3 inches (25 to 75 millimeters) of rain over parts of southern Florida over the next 48 hours. Up to 2 inches (50 millimetere) of rainfall is also expected in parts of northwestern Bahamas. Storm surge warnings have also been issued by the NHC, with waves up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) above ground level expected over parts of the northwestern Bahamas, the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula.
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On its current path, Bonnie is projected to clip southern Florida later today as a tropical storm before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. The NHC said the presence of an upper level low in the Gulf of Mexico and associated wind shear is likely to prevent significant strengthening as Bonnie moves through the region. Although there is significant uncertainty in long-term forecasts, the NHC said Bonnie is currently expected to make landfall in Louisiana or Mississippi on July 25 as a tropical storm.
Reports said parts of the Bahamas have been hit by tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain. However, the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency said there have been no reports of major damage, flooding or injuries so far. Bonnie is expected to bring heavy rainfall to parts of Florida as it passes the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula, but emergency officials said they are not planning any mandatory evacuations since they did not expect a major storm surge. A state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana, however, in preparation of the storm’s possible landfall and Governor Bobby Jindal said residents in low-lying areas could be evacuated.
Offshore, forecasters said Bonnie is predicted to move over key oil and natural gas production areas to the south of Louisiana. This has prompted some oil companies to evacuate workers from facilities in the path of the storm. Bonnie has also forced crews working to permanently plug the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to evacuate. Vessels and rigs involved in the effort have started to move out of the system’s path and officials said the evacuation could force a delay of 10 to 14 days. However, officials said the cap on the ruptured well that has been in place for a week will remain in place.
Sources: National Hurricane Center, WSI, Associated Press, Reuters News, Agence France Presse
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