Jul 23, 2010 7:05 AM by Sharlee Barriere
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) - Tropical Storm Bonnie steamed through the
central Bahamas and was approaching the Florida Keys on Friday
along a course that is expected to cross over the site of the Gulf
of Mexico oil spill.
Rain and lightning raked the low-lying Turks and Caicos Islands
and the Bahamas on Thursday, and forecasters at the U.S. National
Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm could reach the Gulf of
Mexico by Saturday.
Early Friday, Bonnie had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65
kph), and was centered about 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast
The center of Bonnie was expected to pass near or over the
Florida Keys later Friday and part of the southern Florida
peninsula. U.S. forecasters said slow strengthening of the storm
was possible during the next 48 hours.
Capt. Stephen Russell, director of the Bahamian National
Emergency Management Agency, said there were no reports of major
damage, flooding or injuries on islands in the southeastern and
central Bahamas already passed by the storm. The storm wasn't yet
clear of the most heavily populated islands in the northeast,
including New Providence and Grand Bahama.
"We are advising everyone to remain vigilant throughout the
night and early morning when the storm exits the Bahamas," Russell
A broken oil well has spewed somewhere between 94 million and
184 million gallons into the Gulf before a cap could be attached.
The crisis - the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history -
unfolded after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April
20, killing 11 workers.
Some experts worry the hurricane season could worsen
environmental damage from the spill, with powerful winds and large
waves pushing oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands and also
depositing more of the pungent, sticky mess on beaches.
As the storm advanced Thursday, people stocked up on water and
food in the southern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, island chains
that are well-accustomed to rough weather. Many businesses remained
open, but schools were already closed for the summer.
Donna Musgrove, a businesswoman in Providenciales, said some
streets were flooded. "It's raining from one end of the island to
the other," she said. "The skies are completely dark."
The storm did not pose a threat to tourist resorts in the
Tourist Ezra Uzzel, 45, of North Carolina, said he would not cut
short his two-week vacation in the Turks and Caicos.
"This if our third day, and if the reports are right, by the
weekend we should have good weather again," he said.
Residents in the southeastern Bahamas endured heavy rains and
copious lightning, but no damages or injuries had been reported.
Officials with the Emergency Operations Center said they would
travel to the area with basic supplies as soon as the weather
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the northwestern
Bahamas, for Florida's east coast south of Deerfield Beach, the
entire Florida Keys up the western coast to Englewood. A tropical
storm watch was issued early Friday for the northern Gulf coast
from Destin, Fla., to Morgan City, La.
The system was expected bring heavy winds and rains to the
Florida Keys in the next few days, but emergency officials said
they were not planning any mandatory evacuations since they did not
expect a major storm surge.
As a precaution, storm shelters will open for tourists and
residents who live on boats or have special needs.
In the Dominican Republic, where roughly 1,500 people were
evacuated, rice fields were destroyed and 14 communities left
isolated after bridges collapsed. A 14-year-old boy died in Puerto
Rico on Sunday after drowning in a swollen river.