The Hurricane Page
What is going on now?
Archive of weather discussions and eye witness reports from the Caribbean Islands so far in the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Postings are in reverse chronological order (so it might be easier to start reading at the bottom of this page and work your way up to follow the timeline). For current events look here.
|- - - Bonnie - - -|
For your orientation: From the Where to Stay website: a map of the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.
Note that this website is focused on the Caribbean. Therefore we will not cover Bonnie's progress after it has passed the Caribbean islands. The Central Atlantic Storm Investigators have put together an excellent website re: Bonnie.
[Wed, 26 Aug 1998 04:11EDT] - Pamelah Jills Jacobson (Fort Recovery Estates) reporting from Tortola (BVI):
Just a back track note on Bonnie. She left an 8 hour weak tropical storm. The beach brought many new and unusual treasures, coral, shell, seaweed and some old cans. Danielle, we'll see.
[Tue, 25 Aug 1998 16:43EDT] - Kirk Graff (MPL Enterprises) reporting from Grand Turk:
KIRKS LOG STARDATE 082598 We are back to the dock and have made the rounds. The Island of Grand Turk sustained virtually no damage from Tropical Storm/Hurricane BONNIE. Of course Bonnie was not a hurricane until just a little past us, thankfully. The serious winds, around 40 sustained, and gusting over 50, came from the West southwest. If Bonnie hadn't stopped her movement we wouldn't have had even the small problems we had. The power company had troubles with salt shorting out the power poles, the leafy trees have been burnt by all the salt in the air, and the Salinas are full. Everyone is glad for the rain, it's raining now and the trees will come back as usual. We had serious beach erosion at the south end of the Island and it all seemed to have moved north where winter storms had caused a lot of damage. The seas are still rolling in at about 8 to 10 foot. The saddest damage report is of a 45+ foot sailboat that was at sea trying to get south. I understand it lost it's engine and then helplessly drifted ashore. They attempted to catch the drop-off as they drifted in, but the winds and seas were too powerful. She is now hi-up on the beach with a split mainmast, damaged rudder, and her 8' draft keel is almost totally buried in the sand. Haven't spoken to the owners yet, but I've heard that other than bruised and shaken-up they are OK. Three other vessels broke loose in our harbor of NORTH CREEK, a 38' sailboat now sitting in the southeast shallows, a 34' powerboat packed up on the northeast shore, since recovered and a 30' seized Dominican fishing boat, that miraculously danced around then re- anchored itself. Our only transient vessel in the harbor for the storm has spent nearly 2 days trying to pry his anchor from North Creeks muddy grip. We've lost several that way. It's good to have a primer storm to wake you up to the dangers that lurk with the big ones. Bertha did that for us for Hortense, lets hope this isn't another rehearsal. Our nerves can't take that again. I hope everyone else that encounters BONNIE fares well.
[Mon, 24 Aug 1998 18:06EDT] - Lesley Cancino (Axxess International) reporting from Nassau (Bahamas):
At this point in time we have not experienced any affects from the hurricane and really don't expect to. As the weather usually is, it has remained hot and sunny with a little bit of rain but not that much.
[Mon, 24 Aug 1998 15:42EDT] - Kirk Graff (MPL Enterprises) reporting from off Grand Turk:
It was a close one. As you may (not) recall our business is in marine repair, dockage, storage, etc. Also we live on our boat so as you can guess it gets pretty busy with a storm. the unfortunate part is we can't use the E-mail from the boat when it is out on it's storm moorings. We got every one out of the water we could and then went out on our boat and sat it out. Had winds steady @ 40 with gusts up to about 50. Thankfuly it didn't gather strength untill it was past us. It was a pain when it stopped though as the winds stuck in the SW @ 30 for around 30+ hours. The trees lost most of there leaves on the ocean side but the beaches are ok. Had one 40' sailboat go ashore when they lost power on the ocean, no serious damage. 3 other boats went ashore in the harbor. The Island here (Grand Turk) is in good shape and we got a lot of needed rain. I don't know what the status of the other islands are at this point.
August 24 9:40EDT - Drifting away from the Bahama's towards...??
Bonnie is still hanging around east of the Bahama's at a relatively safe distance. This strong hurricane will probably not move any closer to these islands. What it will do next is still uncertain (as always). Some computer models forecast Bonnie to make landfall in the Carolina's, others predict a just miss.
August 23 13:45EDT - Still drifting...
The latest coordinates: 24.6N, 71.6W, or a little north of the previous update. Movement to the northwest is still expected to start later today. Maximum sustained winds near 115mph. For more info check out the advisories issued by the Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center.
[Sun, 23 Aug 1998 12:16EDT] - William Kattan reporting from Grand Turk:
Just when we thought the storm had gone and all the weather information said that a hurricane warning was no longer in effect for the Turks & Caicos islands the worse of it struck. At about 400 am there was a series of powerful gusts that must have exceeded 50 MPH because the electricity was then turned off. There was a lot of heavy rainfall as well, so heavy that it made its way (some how?) through the windows in to our house. The sea was very rough as well. This morning the wind had calmed down considerably but the sea is still rough. The electricity is back on and the rain has stopped. The skies are hazy and I would expect there to have been some damage as a result of the heavy winds from last night. But again I won't know for sure until I go out and check, which I will do later today.
August 23 12:05EDT - Move, Bonnie, Move
Bonnie is now a Category 3 Hurricane on the Saffir Simpson Scale, or a so-called major hurricane! Maximum sustained winds are currently near 115mph! Bonnie is still quite close to the islands, but luckily not that close. It is currently located about 180+ miles east from the Bahama's (at about the same latitude as Rum Cay/San Salvador). The bad thing is that Bonnie is not moving at all and just sitting there. It might very well that Bonnie drifts a little closer to the Bahamas. What kind of winds might we currently expect in the Bahamas? The following is taken from the most recent Marine Advisory:
ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 957 MB EYE DIAMETER 25 NM MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 100 KT WITH GUSTS TO 120 KT 64 KT....... 40NE 40SE 40SW 40NW 50 KT....... 90NE 90SE 75SW 75NW 34 KT.......150NE 150SE 100SW 150NW 12 FT SEAS..150NE 150SE 100SW 150NW ALL QUADRANT RADII IN NAUTICAL MILESFrom this we can deduct that the highest winds are to the East of the center of the hurricane, so away from the islands! Since Bonnie is about 180 miles (about 155 nautical miles) away, it seems that the highest winds they might encounter at the moment is 34 knot (39mph) winds. This is minimal tropical storm strength. So it doesn't look too bad for the Bahama's. However, wind is often not the biggest threat, but torrential rains can cause more danger and damage. Looking at the latest satellite image it shows that the Bahama's are at the moment just out of reach of that as well... However, keep in mind that Bonnie is drifting right now, a couple miles movement towards the east will make a lot of difference.
[Sat, 22 Aug 1998 18:58EDT] - William Kattan reporting from Grand Turk:
I went and checked out the island today. It was pretty safe to walk and drive around although front street was obviously rather wet. There was localised heavy rainfall in certain areas, but otherwise there were quite a few people on the street like myself checking out the situation. At 700pm the temperature was 26 degrees Celsius, certainly a lot cooler than usual but that is to be expected. There was some damage to fences which were blown down and branches lying here and there. Most of the houses have been boarded up, but there were food shops still open. It is quite safe to walk around, as long as you don't get hit by a flying object. I would say that the strongest winds occurred this morning around 600 am when there were some pretty heavy gusts of wind which were probably responsible for blowing down some fences on Duke street which leads into Front Street. Otherwise it is still windy and overcast and the sea is still very rough. The situation does not seemed to have improved greatly but it has not deteriorated either. So I would say everything so far is OK, but no one will know for sure until everything is assessed when the hurricane has officially passed. I would estimate that there has been minimal damage at this moment in time.
[Sat, 22 Aug 1998 14:04EDT] - William Kattan reporting from Grand Turk:
Its 200pm here and I have just had a look outside. The sea is obviously rough but the wind is not that strong. It certainly has not exceeded 40 MPH otherwise I would not be on the internet now because there would be no electricity. There is basically a strong breeze from the North West of Grand Turk. In a short while I will go out myself and check out the island. Sometime later I will e-mail you with any new information. It looks like its not going to get any worse but you can never be sure.
[Sat, 22 Aug 1998 10:43EDT] - Faith Hamer reporting from Providenciales (Turks and Caicos):
Nothing much to report yet. We are still waiting. It is still very overcast on Providenciales (tourist capital). It rained for about three minutes at 9:05am and then on and off but not heavy rain. Residents are still preparing, including last minute shopping and putting up plywood hurricane shutters. The picture is very much the same on Grand Turk, the nation's capital and on the main residential islands, North Caicos, South Caicos Middle Caicos, Salt Cay. As of now, it is very still. Most residents are tuned in to the weather channel. American Airlines flew out of Providenciales International Airport on schedule this morning at about 8:00 am. All Domestic flights were reported to have closed at about 9:00am. (Intra-island travel is by air). Will keep you informed when there is more to report.
August 22 10:15EDT - Getting closer, but not as close...
Bonnie (a hurricane by now) is now very close to the Turks and Caicos. Yesterday it looked like it was going to pass very, very close, luckily this morning it's track was a little bit more northward. The center will still pass within 100 miles from the islands, but since the highest winds are located to the north of the center, the Turks and Caicos will probably (hopefully) not experience any hurricane force winds (in excess of 75 miles per hour), maximium winds will probably be around 50-60 mph. Still pretty bad, also they can expect a lot of rain... I am still trying to get some reports from the Turks and Caicos, but my hurricane correspondents have highly likely something better to do now of course!
Bonnie is currently located at 22.4N 70.0W (8:00AM). Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph. The minimum central pressure has dropped remarkedly over the last 24 hours to 980mbar. Bonnie is moving west northwest near 17mph. The three day forecast predicts a sharp turn to the north after about 2-3 days. The timing of this will be very important for US coastal areas.
I just got an e-mail from Victor Kattan who lives on Grand Turk island (the center of Bonnie is about 100 miles from them now). He reports the following:
The power is still on, they will only turn it off if the winds exceed 45 Mph so I guess they have not exceeded this speed. Otherwise overnight there was a lot of rain and some heavy gusts of wind. The sea is very rough and there is a lot of debree, I.e. branches and shrubs flying about outside. There has not been much damage but I will not know for sure until the weather calms down and I can go outside.
[Fri, 21 Aug 1998 19:03EDT] - John Fuller reporting from Antigua (as more correspondents have been mentioning; that wave out there in the Atlantic has become really threathening...):
bonnie has done little for us.little rain little surf and little excitement.its southern and s.w. vectors had little power.only this a.m. have we got some swells.wind moved from n. to w. to s.w. and is now s.and never got above 20mph.looks bad for turks @caicos @ bahamas.the next one out east looks interesting.
August 21 18:55EDT - Be prepared!
Bonnie is currently located at 20.6N, 66.7W. Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph. Bonnie is still moving west northwest near 17mph. This system becomes better and better organized, it might be upgraded to a hurricane later tonight...
The center of Bonnie is currently about 325 miles from the Caicos Islands (21.8N, 71.6W), which at its current speed is around 19 hours. The marine advisory tells us that tropical storm force winds extend to max. 150 miles to the northwest of the center and 50 miles to the southwest. So effects will probably be felt about 6 hours earlier (is within 13 hours from 17:00EDT). By that time Bonnie is expected to have reached tropical strength.
Will it threaten the US Coast? This is kind of out of the scope of these pages (there are also much better sources on the internet), but it all seems to depend how fast that through moves eastward over the US continent. This trough should push Bonnie northward, thereby hopefully averting the US coast. Unfortunately for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos it looks like Bonnie's center will pass very, very close from them (ie., it may within 25 miles...). So on these islands be prepared for HURRICANE force winds...
August 21 11:50EDT - It does not look good! :-(
How much difference 2 hours makes... Now it looks like that Bonnie will make landfall in the Bahama's after all. Not only that, and as I expected, Bonnie is strengthening quite rapidly. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Bahama's and a hurricane watch for the Turks and Caicos... It looks that Bonnie's turn to the north might be too late for the Bahama's and also the US... Important: I hardly have any hurricane correspondents in this area, please contact me if you would like to help out. See below for more info or e-mail me at email@example.com.
August 21 9:50EDT - Bahama's next?
Well, Bonnie passed the NE islands but not too many ill effects (see reports below). What will it do next? Currently Bonnie is located 20.2N, 64.6W. Maximum sustained winds are near 50mph, making it an 'average' tropical storm (hurricane force winds start at 74mph). It is still strengthening, albeit slowly. This is partly due to it's high forward motion (near 22mph). The system is now more or less due north of Puerto Rico, and judging from the latest report I have received the island was out of reach of tropical storm strength winds. Yesterday the three day forecast of the National Hurricane Center and other computer models hinted that it might make (is)landfall in the Bahama's. This morning however, it looks like Bonnie is taking a strong turn to the north after about 2-3 days, just before it reaches the Bahama's. Although tropical storm winds extend up to 150 miles from the center, it won't be too bad for the Bahama's since the grunt of the storm is to the north of the center. On the other hand, however, since Bonnie will be coming over very warm waters soon, it has the potential of strengthening rapidly. It might reach the Bahama's too soon for that, but if it does make landfall on the US Coast, I expect Bonnie to be a strong hurricane. We'll see what really happens...
[Fri, 21 Aug 1998 08:43EDT] - Luis Salazar reporting from Downtown San Juan (Puerto Rico):
Throughout the night and early morning the San Juan area has been receiving short (30 min.) strong rains with some wind. Some blue has been seen in the sky this morning though the short strong rain bursts at time turn weather from normal to gusty and rainy in seconds. It looks definitely like tropical storm situation since it doesn't resemble the typical rain patterns in Puerto Rico but we are definitely getting rain from the second outside bands and this explains the periods of sunshine and the on again off again sudden changes in weather. No thunderstorm or high winds activity has been seen, being sporadical squalls the tune for the day. Reports from local weather are that Bonnie is heading away from the island and this seems to be true as no real contingencies by businesses, government or others are in the making.
[Fri, 21 Aug 1998 07:12EDT] - Martha Watkins Gilkes reporting from Antigua:
In Antigua we have had a bad night.... very strong, gusty wind. This started around 3 a.m. and is continuing now at 7 a.m.... I can't believe our electricity has not gone off. To the east of the island it is still very gray and there are still strong gusts. Doesn't appear there will be structural damage but certainly foliage/ gardens will suffer from these winds. The seas are rough also and marine related activities are being delayed.... no scuba diving today! So we hope Bonnie moves on soon...
[Fri, 21 Aug 1998 06:37EDT] - Max R. Schanfarber reporting from St.Thomas:
The bad news is we didn't get much rain in the cestern. The good new is my roof is still on. On the north side of St. Thomas there were some wind gusts and a little rain. Good luck you folks in the Bahamas .
[Fri, 21 Aug 1998 06:22EDT] - Rafael Buxeda Díaz reporting from Puerto Rico:
A tropical storm watch is still in effect for Puerto Rico and storm warning for the US Virgin Islands. The San Juan Weather Bureau forecasts winds from 15-25 (a bit above normal) and gusting to over 35 mph. Winds will shift from N, NW to SW this afternoon, and SE tonight. So, we are going to have a hot evening. Rainfall is expected to reach 3-5 inches through tonight. Local authorities in Vieques and Culebra reported light rain during the night, and no damages. San Juan had drizzles all night long, but there are, as yet (6:00 am), no reports of local flooding. San Juan is partially cloudy and breezy, not normal, but no reason to run to the hills. The radar is pretty much clear. The danger is how much rain falls and where, since the ground is saturated. There is a flash flood watch for the Virgin Islands, but no mention of Puerto Rico, yet. This could very well change during the morning hours, if conditions worsen.
August 20 23:50EDT - Bonnie
TD#2 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bonnie. It is still a fast mover. Bonnie is currently located at 19.0N, 62.3W or about 85 miles from St.Maarten. This is closer than I anticipated, but although maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph, Bonnie didn't cause many problems, except for flooding and possible power outages (see the reports below) since the grunt of the system is more to the north of the center.
Bonnie is still moving rapidly at 24mph west northwest. Since it is taking a somewhat more southernly track than anticipated people on the US and British Virgin Island and Puerto Rico will notice the storm as well, but it will probably be just like on e.g. St.Maarten, Anguilla and Antigua, just some rain, wind gusts etc. and no wind damage.
What will it do next? Well, it is likely to become a hurricane in the next 48 hours, and it seems like it is heading for the Bahamas...
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 21:40EDT] - Javier Pérez reporting from St.Thomas:
In the east side of the island (Humacao) at 9:34PM we have thunderstorms and only a few rain. All the people in the island well about the storm.
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 18:35EDT] - David McDermott reporting from St.Thomas:
Hello to all. The nature of the beast has defied logic again. While moving as fast as predicted, the track is of it's own being belying the inexact scientific nature of track predictions. We are currently under a tropical storm warning. The populace is taking the storm in stride, barely noticing or acknowledging it's imminent arrival. The last two hours have seen a good 1/2 hour rain squall with maybe 15-20 mph gusts and drizzle afterwords. It is not raining at this moment, nor are there strong gusts of wind. It is very dreary. The winds are from the northeast and the latest Doppler radar out of Puerto Rico shows rainbands approaching. Yet, there is no sense of urgency. The cruise ship, Norwegian Sea, is still scheduled to pull in here in the am from St. Maarten. My understanding is they left there early, will head almost due west, then come in behind the storm. I question the logic of this visit but......
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 18:29EDT] - Rafael Buxeda Díaz reporting from Puerto Rico:
With the 5:00 pm position report, news media (especially TV) are up and running. Local authorities, Civil Defense, et al are still mum. The local Weather Bureau office forecasts that gusts in the range of 35 mph will he felt in the mountain area. Gusts should be felt in Vieques, Culebra and Fajardo sometime between 8:00 and 10:00 pm. I would watch a grounded barge at the entrance top San Juan harbor that might suffer wave damage and close the harbor to traffic. What will happen in Vieques and Culebra is anyone's guess, since due to their isolation from the mainland, they will have to weather (no pun intended or implied) wind and rain for themselves. If any rain reports are available from the US or BVI's, that would give us some indication of what to expect tomorrow. desde la nacisn boricua, cuna del Rossellato, aunque sea por seis aqos mas(tm) rafa://puerto rico
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 18:03EDT] - Bruno Benjamin reporting from Guadaloupe (visit his hurricane page [in French]):
Yes we were lucky this time, but there's "something" behind Bonnie, and I'm afraid it will hit one of the islands. I sincerely hope not!
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 17:59EDT] - John Dovale reporting from St.Maarten:
St.Maarten -update #3 The rain is heavy here now, in all areas of the island & it is quite apparent that we now have a tropical storm (Bonnie) because there are reports of winds already gusting in areas along the shorelines to East of the island. Power has already gone down in two areas of the island but it was just intermittent- Philipsburg lost power earlier this morning and Colebay earlier this afternoon. It was restored within a short time. Although this was the case, the shops in Philipsburg have not closed, they are still conducting business as usual. I have heard reports that certain streets are showing signs of flooding with water levels rising just a little- in some areas since early this afternoon, I was told that flooding had already started, although it was considered light. We are expecting lot's more rain now that TD#2 has been upgraded to TS Bonnie.
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 17:01EDT] - Martha Watkins Gilkes reporting from Antigua:
HELLO FROM ANTIGUA... WE have had torrential rainfall here...and very dark skies... but barely a gust of wind...in fact now it is very calm. Our Met office says we now will have much more rain over the next 12 hours as the storm is only about 125 miles off Antigua. We always need the rain so welcome that part...but hope the system brings NO WIND...
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 16:01EDT] - Kirk Graff reporting from the Turks and Caicos:
Been rain, lots of clouds, some lightning, a bit of wind but not much. We are standing by to see what #2 will bring. We do need more rain but but the winds we can do without. After staying on the boat through HORTENSE, well lets just say I don't want to do that again.
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 15:13EDT] - Martha Watkins Gilkes reporting from Antigua:
In Antigua we have the calm before the storm! The wind is very light but the sky to the east is very dark and rain showers are already starting. Business is as usual at this time as they expect the main body to pass to the north east of Antigua. However, we are closly watching in case the system turns towards us. It is expected that we will get rough seas over the next 24 hours.... so we wait and watch!
August 20 2:25EDT - Looking impressive
TD#2 still hasn't reached tropical storm status, although it looks like a mean storm on satellite images. The NHC puts the center of the depression at 17.6N, 59.6W, but to me it looks somewhat further to the north. In any case it is quite close to the islands right now, but again, it doesn't pose a major threat. I just received the following reports from Anguilla and St.Maarten:
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 14:21EDT] - Roy Bossons (Roys Place) reporting from Anguilla:
Not much to report I am glad to say, sky has been overcast since about 1300z with showers, wind is out of the northeast at about fifteen knots, QNH is 29.81 which of course is below standard, seas are moderate, right now we are VFR at wallblake to Juliana. We are expecting more rain later in the day and through tonight.
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 13:10EDT] - John Dovale (Megatropic.com; see their weatherpage) reporting from St.Maarten:
St.Maarten - Update #2 Word on the street here is that we will be feeling the effects of TD#2 very early this afternoon. Looking at the Sat Imagery I can believe this as true. We are already experiencing heavy rain although it is spotty. We do not expect any adverse effects from TD#2 just a lot of rain and maybe some light winds. People are still calm and taking the time to prepare for later today. Most people are gearing up for the electrical power to go off because they expect the sea-based cooling system to get clogged with seaweed like it normally does when we get ground-swell from happenings like TD's and light TSes. I however, am hopeful and optimistic that the power will remain for the most part. We expect more heavy and longer lasting rain showers to hit our area sometime around 4PM as the storm gets closer. Most probably some businesses will close early so that people can get home before roads and other areas with difficult drainage get innundated with flash-flood waters. There is already a hightened presence of public safety vehicles on the roads. Public notices are being given to local radio stations as the situation warrants at this time. On another note- just two weeks ago, the RED CROSS finalized a massive excercise/training regiment on survival after a disaster. More as it unfolds
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 12:25EDT] - Dave McDermott reporting from St.Thomas (which is currently under a tropical storm watch):
Just a note on the lackadaisial attitude St. Thomas seems to be taking on this TD #2 (soon to be Bonnie). Today's Daily News has no stories or information at all on this system in the local pages. The only brief mention of any note is on the weather page and it says "Another tropical wave, a much stronger one, will arrive in the US Virgin Islands late Thursday night and move into Puerto Rico on Friday. This tropical wave could develop into a tropical depression in the next two days". I must note that today IS Thursday! I talked to operations at the cruise ship dock this morning as I wanted to know if the ship scheduled to visit tomorrow had cancelled or not. The person who answered said "Why should it cancel? Is there a reason to?" When I said that the system was only 250 miles away and would start to affect us tonight she said the ship was still coming in. Yes, it is forecast to head west-northwest but, as we have seen before, they sometimes have a mind of their own and it just could come due west putting us, at this time, in it's direct path. As we have been placed under a tropical storm watch, it behooves everyone to at least acknowledge this system does in fact exist very close by and take precautions.
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 12:08EDT] - John Fuller reporting from Anguilla:
its now midday.a lot less wind but completely overcast-no rain.wind due north @ c. 5-12 mph.v. humid.seems to be passing north.little or no ocean swell which is unusual.more later.
August 20 11:15EDT - Moving quickly
The latest advisories from the Tropical Prediction Center (see here) show that TD#2 is moving quite fast at 23mph to the west northwest. This is good, since it doesn't have that much time to strengthen before it is in reach of the islands. TD#2 is now very close to tropical storm strength. A tropical storm warning might be issued for the NE islands later today. So far, everything still quiet (see the reports below).
Current forecasted track will take TD#2 still north of the islands. However, it will probably reach hurricane status in about 3 days. But by then at least we in the Caribbean don't have to worry about it anymore...
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 10:39EDT] - Steve Coghlan reporting from Antigua:
Thursday - 10:30 am The sky is very overcast, but surprisingly little rain in the last few hours. The wind is northerly but light and at times calm. Sea conditions are the biggest indicator that a storm is close by. The seas are becoming quite choppy with a swell from the north. We are obviously on the leading edge of the heavy convection, so everyone is prepared for possible thunderstorm activity later today. All in all it is business as usual for now.
August 20 8:50EDT - No Bonnie yet
The latest (8:00EDT) put the center of TD#2 at 17.5N, 55.5W. Maximum sustained winds are near 35mph. TD#2 is expected to become a named tropical storm today. It is moving pretty fast to the west northwest at 20mph. It won't reach hurricane strength within the next 3 days.
At the moment it is almost taking the same path as Alex did. However, with the latest coordinates TD#2 'crossed' Alex's path to follow a more southernly course... It's forecasted path will take TD#2 (Bonnie by then) still a little over 100 miles north of the islands. But because the system is pretty large expect rain and possibly tropical storm winds (which according to the Marine Advisory extend to up to 115 miles south) on the norteastern islands. Yesterday it was unusually hot/no wind on St.Maarten. Right now it is raining, but not too bad. Tropical strom watches remain in effect.
Following are some excellent reports which I got in from the special hurricane correspondents on the islands (in reverse chronological order):
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 08:41EDT] - John Fuller reporting from Anguilla:
last night at about 7pm the wind went into the north and the storm was still 600 miles away! this am wind still in north but stonger, seas growing with a n.e. swell. cloud bands along north south axes moving in with intermittent rain squalls as i write. east and north darkening.we have a trop. storm watch. all fishermen making plans for safe anchorage. otherwise not much concern--feeling is we went through luis so a mere trop. storm is a piece of coconut cake!
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 06:37EDT] - John Dovale (Megatropic.com; see their weatherpage) reporting from St.Maarten:
There was a little bit of a "surprise....surprise" attitude yesterday when word leaked out that the Govt was prepping their Emergency Ops Center on standby in expectation of being put under STORM WATCH. There was not much talk about anything on the media so I guess a lot of people did not realize there was something out there. On checking our weather site it became clear to me why these decisions were being made- 4 tropical waves following each other closely---all headed this way. The picture was not pretty. Nonetheless, we are now expected TD#2 to become the second named tropical storm of the season sometime later today...... The mood here now is still one of calm, I think most people are prepared and only need to do light stocking up on essentials to be prepared in the event the situation warrants this. Since the past few years, many local businesses and homes have retrofitted with HURRICANE SHUTTERS and most new homes have them as well, so battening down the hatches has become something which can be done at a moments notice for most areas. It is believed that TD#2, even if it strengthens, wil mostly bring RAIN and some gusts but nothing damaging. In many areas, the concern will be to secure construction materials (lots of construction taking place lately). Many places now have underground infrastructure so, the power should remain longer than normal unless the sea swells to a point which hampers the cooling-suction system.
[Thu, 20 Aug 1998 00:25EDT] - Steve Coghlan reporting from Antigua:
Thursday - 12:10 am. It is relatively quiet at this moment, but conditions are changing. The wind is easterly at about 10 - 15 mph with higher gusts every few minutes. A few light showers but no heavy rain as yet. No doubt that will change within the next few hours. It looks as though the center of the storm will pass slightly north of Antigua, but there still seems to be a fair amount of convection to the south of the system. It's not going to be a good day for the beach.
August 19 23:10EDT - TD#2 formed
As expected the tropical wave is officially upgraded to Tropical Depression #2 (Bonnie). The (relatively hard to define) center is currently located at 16.5N, 52.4W, or about 590 miles east of the islands. It's current motion is to the west north-west near 18mph. This means that the center would reach the island in 32 hours. However, since the system is pretty large, effects of the depression could be felt by early morning.
Maximum sustained winds are currently near 35mph. It is expected to reach tropical storm status in 24 hours (40 mph). Should residents on the islands become worried? Well, as it looks right now the National Hurricane Center predicts that the center of the storm will pass just (or about 100 miles) north of the islands. At that time it is expected that tropical storm strength winds will extend up to 115 miles south southeast of the center. Therefore, according to the Tropical Prediction Center it seems likely that the northeastern islands will be within reach of tropical storm strength winds. Other computer models however keep it more to the north. See for example Gary Gray's discussion and our Quick Hurricane Resource Navigator. Hopefully, and as it looks now, the islands will escape the grunt of this storm, but as always you'll never know
Because of the close proximity to the islands a tropical storm watch has been issued for the following islands: Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, St.Maarten, Saba and St.Eustatius. It is expected that the French islands (St.Martin and maybe Guadaloupe) will issue similar watches as well.
August 19 11:25EDT - Stay tuned...
The large tropical wave east of the islands is slowly becoming better organized. It is still very likely that it will develop in a tropical cyclone. The wave is now about 850 miles east of the islands, and moving west round 15 to 20 mph. My 'best' (most optimistic) guess is that the system is already so close to the islands (about two days) that there is not much time left for it to develop into a strong tropical storm or even a hurricane, also the center might even move north of the islands anyway... But you never know, so stay tuned!
Another tropical wave, still far away in the Atlantic, also shows some promise for development... So unfortunately it looks like the season has finally begun.
August 18 13:20EDT - Action
The latest Tropical Weather Outlook report that the tropics have (finally) become quite active. It is highly likely that the tropical wave in the Atlantic (about 1,200 east of the islands) will develop into our second tropical depression. Then there is also a tropical wave north of the Leeward Islands which shows all of a sudden quite some organization. Further areas of disturbed weather are located in the Gulf and near the Bahamas.
August 14 9:05EDT - Late start
It is still relatively quiet in the Atlantic, but the several sources are predicting a late start of this year's season. See e.g. the outlook issued by NOAA (full text can be found here):
There is an increased likelihood of above-average tropical storm and hurricane activity over the North Atlantic during August-October 1998 in response to developing La Nina conditions, according to a consensus reached by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Center (NHC) and Hurricane Research Division (HRD). There is also an increased likelihood of more hurricanes reaching major hurricane status during this period.
August 7 12:20EDT - Dr.Gray's Updated Hurricane Forecast
Dr. Gray and his team at Colorado State University released the last update on this year's Atlantic Hurricane Activity. It is about the same as June's version (see below). See their press-release for more information about the effects of El Niño and La Niña on the 1998 season. More detail can also be found on their website at: http://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts/.
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