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Hurricane Hut

Bonnie - 1998
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Hurricane Bonnie East of the Bahamas

A large tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 14. The wave was steered to the WSW by a high pressure to the north, and it began to organize significantly on August 18, and it became Tropical Depression Two on August 19. The depression moved very quickly to the WNW and became Tropical Storm Bonnie about 24 hours later on August 20. Bonnie continued the WNW motion but slowed in speed later on the 20th as it strengthened at a steady pace. Bonnie reached hurricane strength early on August 22 when located about 200 miles north of eastern Hispaniola. The hurricane hunter flight found a “nearly complete eyewall” that day, and winds of 85 mph When Bonnie became a Category 2 Hurricane, it slowed greatly in speed, and made a slow turn to the northwest as steering currents collapsed. Bonnie was able to strengthen more during this time, and it was a Category 3 major hurricane by the time steering currents returned and the storm accelerated to the northeast. Bonnie reached a peak intensity at 7 am EST on August 23 with winds of 115 mph and a later pressure of 954 mbar.

From the 23rd to late on the 26th of August, Bonnie’s winds remained at 115 mph the whole time, but the pressure gradually rose, and was 962 mbar by late on the 26th. The winds finally weakened to below Category 3 status as the storm approached North Carolina and turned to the north early on the 27th. The turn to the north prevented a direct landfall as a Category 3 storm, but Bonnie still touched land near Cape Fear, North Carolina as a Cat 2, and then made a brief landfall near Wilmington as a Cat 2. It weakened to a tropical storm as it moved northeast over North Carolina. A trough accelerated Bonnie to the northeast on the 27th, and it regained hurricane strength briefly as it moved back over the Atlantic waters. Bonnie became extratropical midday on August 30 while about 240 miles south of Newfoundland. Three people were killed due to Bonnie, one due to a falling tree, and the other two were due to drowning. Damages were reported mainly in the form of fallen trees, roof damage, and power outages in North Carolina and Virginia. Total damages were estimated at about 720 million dollars. Despite the damage, the name Bonnie was not retired and it was used again in the 2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season.