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TS Bonnie roars to the Gulf

The National Hurricane Center in Miami reports at 1 p.m. Tropical Storm Bonnie is less organized and is moving rapidly west-northwestward over the Southern Florida Peninsula.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida west coast, from east Cape Sable northward to Englewood and from Destin, Fla. to Morgan City, La., including Lake Pontchartrain.

As the storm approaches, engineers prepared to abandon their vigil over BP’s broken oil well Friday as ships and rig workers evacuated the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Bonnie.

The mechanical plug that has throttled the oil for a week will be left closed, even if the undersea robots monitoring the well’s stability leave. The only way BP would know if the cap had failed would be satellite and aerial views of oil gushing to the surface.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said he’s confident the cap will hold, despite a few leaks that raised concerns last week. Scientists say even a severe storm shouldn’t affect the plug, nearly a mile beneath the ocean surface 40 miles from the Louisiana coast.

The rough weather could delay by another 12 days the push to plug the broken well for good using mud and cement, Allen and BP officials conceded. Even if it’s not a direct hit, the rough weather will push back efforts to kill the well by at least a week.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.