June 28, 2022

Developing Atlantic Tropical Storm Set To Take An Unusual Track

A tropical wave that's made its way across the eastern Atlantic Ocean for the past couple of days is on the verge of organizing into Tropical Storm Bonnie on Tuesday. The system will bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the southern Caribbean—which itself is unusual for the end of June, but it's an odd storm track altogether.

Southern Caribbean On Alert

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) calls the system "Potential Tropical Cyclone Two," a bureaucratic term that gives forecasters the ability to issue tropical storm watches and warnings before the system formally develops into a tropical depression or tropical storm.

Forecasters expect PTC Two to organize during the day on Tuesday, becoming Tropical Storm Bonnie as it approaches Trinidad and Tobago.

The storm will skim the southern periphery of the Caribbean Sea through the week, bringing foul weather to places like Aruba and the northern coasts of Colombia and Venezuela.

From there, the NHC's forecast calls for future-Bonnie to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall in Nicaragua by the end of the week.

Any tropical cyclone is bad news for Central America—the region's rough terrain makes flash flooding and mudslides a life-threatening ordeal no matter how strong a storm is when it pushes ashore.

Strange Storm, Strange Track

The system's existence is a bit of an oddity for this early in the season. Early-season storms usually form closer to the United States, the result of decaying fronts or thunderstorm complexes that move into the western Atlantic basin.

We usually don't start seeing tropical waves push off Africa and move across the tropical Atlantic until the middle and latter half of the summer. This storm's origin isn't unheard of for the end of June, but it's on the extreme side of "huh, that's weird" for a storm this early in the season.

Not only are we dealing with a premature tropical wave, but it's going to follow an equally unusual track. A very strong ridge of high pressure over the eastern half of the Atlantic Ocean will push this system into Trinidad and Tobago, then allow it to skirt the northern shores of South America through the week.

Systems usually don't track this far south. 

Future-Bonnie's track is on the far southern edge of all recorded storms over the past 170 years of diligent recordkeeping—all as a result of that strong ridge.

Forecasters expect a busy hurricane season in the weeks and months ahead. This could be our eighth above-average season in a row, with more than a dozen named storms likely through this fall. It's more important than ever to make sure you're prepared for flooding, power outages, or worse, even if you live hundreds of miles inland.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.