Tropical Storm Bonnie Closing In on Oil Spill

Cynthia Dermody

tropical storm bonnie 2010 mapI'm glad all the complaining I've been doing about the heat wave smothering the Northeast is accomplishing something other than annoying my family and delaying my landscaping chores. It may be helping to deflate Tropical Storm Bonnie.

Bonnie, now officially a storm sailing over southern Florida and heading into the Gulf of Mexico, is sandwiched between two big weather systems that are tearing away at her: The high-pressure system that is bringing 90- to 100-degree weather to the northeast, and a low-pressure system to her west.

This meteorologic positioning will likely prevent Bonnie from strengthening to hurricane levels. This is good for Floridians, who can cross at least one natural disaster off their list and just endure the steady rain, a lot of which has already been dumped on the upper Florida Keys. Many residents already consider the storm a "non event," weaker than other typical summer day storms.

But being on land is one thing, being on a boat in the middle of the ocean is another.

The pending storm, which is expected to reach wind gusts of 40 miles per hour out in the ocean, has caused the Coast Guard to call for the evacuation of thousands of workers and more than a dozen vessels around BP's Deepwater Horizon blowout site. The evacuation of nearly 2,000 workers will delay containment efforts, the digging of the relief well, and the final "kill" of the broken Macado well for more than a week and push the target completion date to the end of August.

It's hard to know how to feel about Bonnie. The storm could help to speed up the breakdown of the oil slick, the worst in U.S. history, or it could make matters worse by spreading the oil to shores and marshes not already affected. Even though Bonnie promises to be a weaker storm than Hurricane Alex, its track lies closer to the oil spill site and could potentially do even more damage. Alex's impact, which was largely felt on the eastern Texas/Mexico border, was minimal in terms of oil cleanup efforts.


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