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Bonnie downgraded to tropical depression

Magva Balbuena walks on a Hollywood beach Friday, looking for “sea beans,” which she says are considered lucky in her native Cuba.

Associated Press

Magva Balbuena walks on a Hollywood beach Friday, looking for “sea beans,” which she says are considered lucky in her native Cuba.

A weakened Bonnie was downgraded to a tropical depression early Friday night.

The Tampa Bay area should see rain die out within the next few hours as the storm heads northwest toward the Louisiana coast.

"It could weaken even more," Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay said. "It's really very poorly organized."

As Bonnie leaves, high humidity and typical afternoon storms are expected locally, Clay said. There is a 60 percent chance of rain Saturday.

Friday evening, Bonnie was off the coast of Naples. Projections from the National Weather Service show it hitting the Deepwater Horizon spill site Saturday afternoon.

Clay said it was unlikely the storm would regain strength as it passes over the Gulf.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded the system to a tropical storm late Thursday as it passed the Bahamas. At 8 a.m. Friday, the storm was about 80 miles southeast of Miami and heading northwest at 19 mph (tracking map below). It had maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph.

The heavy rain squalls and bursts of wind picked up right around morning rush hour in South Florida, the Miami Herald reported Friday, but government offices, public transit and garbage services continued operating normally.

A handful of crashes were reported in Broward County on Interstates 595 and 95, Florida Highway Patrol officials told the Herald, but it was not out of the ordinary for such stormy weather.

A tropical storm warning was in effect Friday morning for the Florida Keys, Florida's west coast as far north as Englewood, the state's east coast up to Deerfield Beach, and the northwestern Bahamas.

A tropical storm watch was issued for the northern Gulf Coast, from Destin to Morgan City, La., and for Deerfield Beach to Jupiter in Florida.

Coast Guard and BP officials said the storm could delay efforts to kill the well by at least a week. It should not disrupt the well's tight-fitting cap a mile beneath the surface, scientists have said.

Because the wind shear created by an upper level low, Bonnie is not expected to develop into a hurricane, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. The wind shear keeps the storm from organizing into a tightly concentrated mass.

"It's been fighting that upper low all along," he said. "It's like taking a ball and stretching it out like a rubber band."

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Bonnie downgraded to tropical depression 07/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 23, 2010 6:36pm]

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