Tropical Storm Bonnie moves over Nicaragua towards the Pacific

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Bonnie swept through Nicaragua, bringing the threat of flooding from heavy rains, while heading for an expected rapid crossing on its way to the Pacific and possible strengthening into a hurricane.

Bonnie landed Friday night on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua about 120 kilometers south of Bluefields, the US National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters have warned of the danger of major flooding, with rains of up to 8 inches (about 20 centimeters), and even more in isolated places.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h (50 mph) on landfall and was moving west at 26 km/h (16 mph) on a track that is also expected to take it across part of Costa Rica overnight. It was expected to move into the Pacific on Saturday and then start to gain strength, likely reaching hurricane strength on Monday.

Authorities in Bluefields said they set up 50 temporary shelters before the storm arrived, and many of its 57,000 residents nailed boards to their windows.

Many Nicaraguans still remember Hurricane Joan, a powerful 1988 storm that wreaked havoc on the coast and killed nearly 150 people in the country.

« We’re waiting for the storm to hit, hoping it won’t destroy our area, » said Bluefields resident Ricardo Gómez, who was 8 when Joan hit, before Bonnie arrived.

The region was also hit by two powerful hurricanes, Eta and Iota, back to back in 2020, causing damage estimated at $700 million.

Costa Rican officials have expressed concern that the storm will trigger landslides and flooding in an area already saturated with rainy days. The government said seven shelters in the northern part of the country were already housing nearly 700 people displaced by the floods.

A huge landslide a week ago cut off the main highway linking the capital, San José, to the Caribbean coast and it remained closed on Friday. The government canceled classes across the country on Friday.

Earlier heavy rains also destroyed or damaged a number of bridges.

The rapid weather disturbance began flooding parts of the Caribbean region on Monday, but it did not meet the criteria for a named tropical storm until Friday.

The Associated Press


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