Early on July 1, a strong and large tropical wave emerged off the coast of Africa, a Cape Verde-type hurricane that develops near the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. The average hurricane season has about two Cape Verde-type hurricanes, which are usually the most intense storms of the season because they often have plenty of warm open ocean over which to develop before encountering land.
By early the next day, a surface low developed and the wave became better organized. The National Hurricane Center upgraded the system to Tropical Depression Two in the morning hours of July 3 after the system was able to maintain convection over its center for at least 12 hours.
The depression organized further and developed two distinct bands of convection. Six hours after becoming a depression, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bertha, the second named storm of the season. The National Hurricane Center noted that this tropical cyclone was remarkably forecasted up to a week in advance by many global computer models.
After a bout of strengthening on July 6, Bertha was upgraded to a hurricane early on July 7 as satellite and microwave imagery indicated an eye feature had formed. It continued to strengthen that morning.
Bertha became the first hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season Monday, after strengthening from a tropical storm overnight. As of 11:00 am EDT, the Category 1 hurricane is located in the mid-Atlantic ocean, about 775 miles east of the Leeward Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. It has maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, with higher gusts, and it is moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour.
The storm is expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours, with a possibility of intensifying into a Category 2 hurricane later today. The National Hurricane Center sees “no apparent environmental factors” to inhibit Bertha’s intensification into a Category 2 storm. Over the next few days, it is projected to gradually turn towards the northwest, while reducing in forward speed.
The National Hurricane Center has not said whether Bertha will affect any land areas. However, a five-day forecast map shows Bertha passing near Bermuda around Saturday. “While the degree of the turn has important implications regarding potential impacts to Bermuda,” the National Hurricane Center said, “it is much too early to determine if Berth will actually threaten that island.”
The name Bertha has been used for many tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean.
- 1957’s Tropical Storm Bertha – A moderate Tropical Storm that threatened areas devastated by Hurricane Audrey two months earlier.
- 1984’s Tropical Storm Bertha – A minimal Tropical Storm that formed in mid-Atlantic, never threatened land.
- 1990’s Hurricane Bertha – A Category 1 Hurricane that moved north, parallel to the East Coast of the United States before dying over Nova Scotia leaving nine dead, including six on a ship sunk by the storm.
- 1996’s Hurricane Bertha – A Major Category 3 Hurricane that crossed the Leeward Islands and passed near Puerto Rico, later making landfall in North Carolina as a Category 2 storm, causing $270 million in damage to the United States and its possessions and many indirect deaths.
- 2002’s Tropical Storm Bertha – A minimal Tropical Storm that formed only two hours before landfall in Louisiana, dissipated, exited back into the Gulf of Mexico, striking South Texas as a Tropical Depression. Bertha caused minimal damage, and one person drowned.
- 2008’s Hurricane Bertha – first hurricane of 2008 Atlantic season.