At 8 a.m. Bonnie had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph as it swirled toward the tip of Florida. There is little chance that it will reach hurricane strength, and, in fact, the National Hurricane Center said early today that there is some sign that the system is beginning to fall apart.
The storm was centered near latitude 24.7, longitude 79.8 or about 800 miles east-southeast of New Orleans and 750 miles east-southeast of Grand Isle.
Bonnie is expected to move over the southern Florida peninsula later today and into the eastern Gulf tonight or Saturday. The storm is expected to make a second landfall somewhere on the northern Gulf coast late Saturday or early Sunday.
Hurricane center forecaster expect no significant change in Bonnie’s strength before it moves over southern Florida, but say it could strengthen slightly as it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf on Saturday.
Roger Erickson, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, said his agency is keeping a close watch on storm.
"The long range forecast for this system is to come into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by this weekend and move somewhat rapidly across the Gulf," Erickson said Thursday. "At this point there are no indications for hurricane development, but we will have to monitor it closely."
Analysis by the Lake Charles office of the National Weather Service released early Friday said that the storm is expected to make its second landfall just to the west of the Mississippi River.
If that prediction holds, the Lake Charles advisory said, coastal Acadiana should not feel tropical storm winds, although that could change if the storm track moves more toward the west -- as some computer models suggest that it might.
The Tropical Storm Watch issued early Friday is for Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, Assumption, St. John the Baptist, Lafourche, St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard parishes in Louisiana, and Bernard, Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties in Mississippi.
A watch means that tropical winds might be felt within 48 hours. The watch is changed to a warning when it becomes certain that the winds will be felt.
According to an advisory from the New Orleans office of the national weather service, it is too early to figure the extent of any storm surge associated with Bonnie and “much depends on the precise size, intensity, and track of the system as it approaches the coast.”
Some minor coastal flooding is anticipated, with tides running three to five feet above normal.