5 strange things about Tropical Storm Bonnie
What?! The first hurricane of Atlantic season could form in the Pacific basin? Not exactly -- and that's just one of the odd characteristics of Bonnie.
Tropical Storm Bonnie's location as of 9 a.m. ET July 1, 2022, prior to making landfall over Central America and its previous track as Potential Tropical Cyclone Two.
What is Tropical Storm Bonnie? The second named system of the year in the Atlantic Basin is anything but a typical tropical cyclone. From its unusual track to the locations it has impacted and will impact, the storm seems full of surprises -- and they may not be over yet.
'My Bonnie lies over the ocean,' in an unusual place
One of the most unique features of Bonnie has been the position of the track it's been taking, along an unusually southern latitude, since before it was declared a named system. When the tropical rainstorm, designated by the National Hurricane Center as Potential Tropical Cyclone Two, 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 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," AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell explained.
Two-island nation is a rare storm landfall region
Compared to other Caribbean nations, Trinidad and Tobago haven't historically seen a lot of landfalls from tropical storms because of their southern latitude. While about a dozen named storms have hit the marine boundaries of the country, only one hurricane has made landfall on Trinidad -- way back on June 27, 1933.
Just over 30 years later, Hurricane Flora became the only hurricane on record to make landfall on the smaller island of Tobago on Sept. 30, 1963.
Now, we can add Bonnie, which did so before it was officially named, to that list.
Tropical Storm Bonnie tracks toward Central America on the morning of July 1, 2022.
The tropical system that spent time over South America
It's also unusual for a tropical cyclone to track over the continent of South America.
Only a handful of named storms have actually made landfall or traveled over Venezuela's mainland. When Tropical Storm Bonnie was still Potential Tropical Cyclone Two, it tracked 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.
After emerging back over the Gulf of Venezuela, the storm hit the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia, which has recorded only four named storm landfalls in history. One additional storm moved through Colombia, Tropical Storm Bret 1993, which traveled south of the peninsula -- the only storm to do so.
Bonnie made a rare landfall in this Central America country
Friday night, Bonnie made landfall along the Nicaragua-Costa Rica coastline, also a rare feat for tropical storms. 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.
Hurricane Otto was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in southern Nicaragua. The storm hit as a Category 3 hurricane on Nov. 24, 2016.
A rare 'crossover storm?'
Otto may also share another unusual trait with Bonnie's track. After landfall, Hurricane Otto's circulation remained intact as it traveled over Costa Rica, even after it emerged into the Eastern Pacific as a Tropical Storm. It was tracked for more than a day in that basin.
Bonnie, after reemerging in the Eastern Pacific, is expected to strengthen into a hurricane, something also odd. Few named storms have ever regenerated into a hurricane in the East Pacific after passing over Central America, though this record is clouded by the fact that the World Meteorological Organization decided in the year 2000 to no longer rename storms that cross basins and remain intact.
Moving over the Eastern Pacific is a tough feat to survive for tropical systems because doing so requires a tropical cyclone to keep its structure when moving over mountainous terrain. Known storms that re-achieved hurricane status in the Eastern Pacific basin after traveling over Central America is an even shorter list that includes Hurricane Irene in 1971, which was renamed Hurricane Olivia and strengthened to a Category 2 storm in the Eastern Pacific.
The list also includes Hurricane Fifi-Orlene in 1974, which formed just south of Puerto Rico as Fifi before crossing into the Eastern Pacific and being renamed Orlene, although meteorologists disagree on whether Fifi made it into the Eastern Pacific intact. Hurricane Fifi-Orlene was responsible for nearly $2 billion in damage and killed more than 8,000 with its flooding, making it the third most-deadly Atlantic hurricane on record.
"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," Ferrell said.
"If a storm is going to cross over, this is the place to do it," Ferrell added. "There's less land in the way -- especially with Lake Nicaragua taking up a significant portion of the land a storm needs to traverse there."
One other unusual aspect of Bonnie's crossover nature is that the storm, despite retaining its Atlantic basin name, will not go down as the Atlantic basin's first hurricane of the season. If Tropical Storm Bonnie intensifies to hurricane-force after it crosses over Central America, which AccuWeather forecasters expect it to do, it will count as a hurricane for the Eastern Pacific basin, according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter, citing World Meteorological Organization.
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