Bertha to buzz the Bahamas

  • Forecast track of Tropical Storm Bertha. Image: NOAA/National Hurricane Center

    False colour image of Tropical Storm Bertha close to Puerto Rico on Saturday 2nd August. Source: NOAA/National Hurricane Center

  • Bertha to buzz the Bahamas
    02.08.2014 15:37

    Tropical Storm Bertha, the second named storm of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season, developed earlier this week. The storm is currently lying over the Caribbean Sea but it is forecast to move west-northwestwards across the east of the Dominican Republic tonight, before skirting past the Bahamas tomorrow (Sunday). The storm system is expected to drift northwards then north-eastwards into the North Atlantic Ocean during the first half of next week.

    Forecasts suggest that Bertha will not strengthen much in the next couple of days, but it may reach hurricane strength on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. By that time the system is not expected to be close to land.

    Despite this lack of intensification, Tropical Storm Bertha is still expected to bring hazardous weather to the Caribbean. Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) are warning of sustained winds of 50mph close to the storm centre. Stronger gusts are expected.

    As well as strong winds, Bertha is also expected to bring heavy rain to the islands along its path. Reports from Dominica indicate that 57mm of rain had fallen at Melville Hall Airport between Friday and today. Forecasts suggest that over the course of this weekend between 75mm (3 inches) and 125mm (5 inches) of rain are expected to fall in some areas. A few isolated parts of Puerto Rico could see as much as 200mm (8 inches) of rain.

    There have already been reports of flooding in Puerto Rico, and with more rain expected the National Weather Service in San Juan has already issued flash flood warnings.

    So far, the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season has been fairly quiet. On average we’d expect to have seen one or two tropical storms by the start of August, so Bertha being only the second named storm is not unusual. The hurricane season starts in June and usually peaks in activity in September before tailing off in October and November. Forecasts for the current season suggest that it will be a little below the long term average of 12 named storms, 6 or 7 of which will become hurricanes.

    By: George Goodfellow