Hours after gusty winds and rain hit Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Tropical Storm Bonnie Friday became the second named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, risking life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides.
A storm is named after it hits wind speeds of at least 39 miles per hour, but days before Bonnie reached that point, it brought heavy rain and weather warnings to the Caribbean.
By Friday, the storm had strengthened slightly and moved into the southwestern Caribbean Sea. The Nicaragua-Costa Rica border as far as Laguna de Perlas, Nicaragua, was under hurricane watch, and the storm is expected to move through the area until Saturday.
While the system was predicted to weaken as it crossed Central America, it was expected to strengthen again once it reached the warmer waters of the eastern Pacific on Saturday. Forecasters are keeping an eye out for two other storms in the Atlantic, including one expected to bring heavy rain to the US Gulf Coast this weekend, where flood warnings are in effect in Texas and Louisiana. The other, much further east, is expected to slowly follow Bonnie’s path to Central America this weekend.
Tropical Storm Alex, which formed on June 5, was the first storm of what is expected to be an “above normal” hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If that prediction comes true, 2022 would be the seventh consecutive year of an above-normal season.
This year, meteorologists predict that the season — which runs through November 30 — will produce 14 to 21 named storms. Six to 10 of them are expected to become hurricanes, and up to six of them are expected to grow into major hurricanes, classified as Category 3 storms with winds of at least 111 miles per hour.
Last year there were 21 named storms, after a record 30 in 2020. For the past two years, meteorologists have exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, an event that has only occurred once, in 2005. .
The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming clearer every year. Data shows that hurricanes have become stronger worldwide over the past four decades. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms – although the total number of storms could drop as factors such as stronger wind shear can prevent weaker storms from forming.
Hurricanes also get wetter due to more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than they would have without the human effects on the climate. Also, rising sea levels contribute to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.