Hurricane Bonnie continues to churn south of Mexico

·4 min read

Hurricane Bonnie put an unusual stamp in the weather history books following its formation in the southwestern Caribbean Sea, passage through Central America and emergence into the East Pacific Ocean -- all within the span of 24 hours. To top it all off, the second named storm of the Atlantic season has become the eastern Pacific Ocean's first major hurricane.

At 10 p.m. CDT Sunday, Bonnie strengthened over East Pacific waters, just west of Nicaragua, and became the third hurricane of the season in the basin. At the time, Hurricane Bonnie had sustained wind speeds of 80 mph (128 km/h), making the cyclone a Category 1 hurricane (sustained winds of 74-95 mph or 119-153 km/h) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Bonnie strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane (sustained winds of 96-110 mph or 154-177 km/h) on Monday and remained at that level for much of the early week.

Bonnie reached Category 3 major hurricane (sustained wind speeds of 111-129 mph or 178-208 km/h) status for several hours on Tuesday. At the 10 a.m. CDT Tuesday update, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) found Bonnie to have sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). The hurricane has since changed categories.

As of 9 a.m. MDT Wednesday, Bonnie had maximum sustained wind speeds of 105 mph (169 km/h), was tracking to the west at 12 mph (22 km/h) and was located about 365 miles (355 km) southwest of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico. Bonnie remained a Category 2 hurricane.

As the hurricane continues to move northwestward into cooler waters, gradual weakening and an overall reduction in wind speed are expected to occur.

At the time of its landfall along the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border on Friday night, Bonnie was a 50-mph (80 km/h) tropical storm, with flooding rainfall being the primary risk to lives and property from the storm in these countries. Only two named storms on record have made landfall in Costa Rica, in 1887 and 1973. The only landfall farther south was Tropical Storm Martha in 1969, which is the only recorded landfall in the country of Panama.

By 10 a.m. CDT Saturday, Bonnie had moved offshore of Nicaragua and was charting a course through the waters of the East Pacific. Since the storm's circulation remained intact and did not fall apart over land, the NHC continued to dub the storm Bonnie, as opposed to giving it the next name on the 2022 East Pacific hurricane season's list (Darby). This is the first crossover storm since November 2016 when Hurricane Otto's circulation remained intact as it traveled over Costa Rica and emerged into the Eastern Pacific as a tropical storm.

"There have been close to 20 officially recognized crossover storms -- meaning they tracked in both the Eastern Pacific and the Atlantic basins. Another 20 or so storms may have crossed over but were never officially recognized as such," AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell said.

Hurricane Bonnie churns south of the Mexican coastline late Monday, July 4, 2022. (AccuWeather Enhanced RealVue™ Satellite)

"Despite quickly attaining major hurricane status, the system will encounter progressively cooler waters during the latter part of this week, which will ultimately lead to weakening," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

The East Pacific basin has already had two hurricanes roar to life south of Mexico this season: Agatha, which made landfall in Oaxaca, and Blas, which stayed offshore.

From its origins, Bonnie has been anything but a typical tropical cyclone.

AccuWeather meteorologists began tracking the system as a tropical rainstorm during the last weekend of June as it swirled over 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.

When the tropical rainstorm, designated by the National Hurricane Center as Potential Tropical Cyclone Two on Monday afternoon, June 27, formed at 8.6 latitude north, about 250 miles north of French New Guinea, it became one of the southernmost tropical cyclones ever tracked.

"According to the NOAA Hurricane Historical Tracks Archive, the only storm that formed farther south was Tropical Storm Bret that formed as a tropical depression at a mere 7.5 degrees north latitude on June 18, 2017, then made landfall as a tropical storm in southern Trinidad on June 20 of that year," Ferrell said.

The rainstorm would then go on to make landfall in Trinidad and Tobago and then scrape the continent of South America, tracking over the Paraguaná Peninsula, a small peninsula located in the northern part of Falcón State, Venezuela. That's something that has only been recorded three times, with only another two tropical storms tracking even farther south in the country.

On Wednesday, June 29, the government of Venezuela closed schools and opened shelters while also limiting air and ground transportation due to the threat of heavy rain from future Bonnie, The Associated Press reported.

The island of Curacao ordered businesses to close and imposed a curfew that began late Wednesday morning, the AP reported. Power outages were reported in Trinidad and Tobago due to the storm's passage early last week.

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