Hurricane Bonnie was moving toward the west and away from the southwest coast of Mexico at 15 mph. Photo courtesy of NOAA
Hurricane Bonnie has 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.
Now, 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, making the cyclone a Category 1 hurricane (sustained winds of 74-95 mph on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Bonnie continued to strengthen early this week as it churned off the southern coast of Mexico.
As of 10 p.m. CDT Monday, Bonnie had maximum sustained wind speeds of 105 mph and was classified as a Category 2 hurricane (sustained winds of 96-110 mph), according to the National Hurricane Center. Bonnie was tracking to the west-northwest at 16 mph (26 km/h) and was located about 220 miles south of Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
An update at 4 p.m. CDT Tuesday, issued by the National Hurricane Center, revealed that Bonnie had gained more strength with maximum sustained winds up to 115 mph. Bonnie was moving toward the west and away from the southwest coast of Mexico at 15 mph. As of 4 p.m. CDT Tuesday, Bonnie was labeled as a Category 3 Hurricane, with little change in strength forecast for the remainder of the day. Weakening of the storm is predicted to begin gradually starting Wednesday.
At the time of its landfall along the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border on Friday night, Bonnie was a 50-mph 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.
"While some additional increase in strength is possible into Wednesday, 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.
"The southwestern coast of Mexico can expect heavy rainfall, locally gusty winds and strong rip currents as the storm tracks south of the country," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
Due to the overall limited impacts in Mexico with a track offshore, Bonnie is a less than one on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes in the country. Bonnie was a 1 on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes in Central America as a result of the high flood threat there.
From its origins, the storm 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.