Bertha became the second hurricane of the 2014 season on Monday. The National Hurricane Center made that announcement in their 11 a.m. public advisory. Bertha was located about 230 miles east of Grand Abaco Island with top sustained winds of 80 miles an hour. The central barometric pressure was 998 milibars. Movement was due north at 17 miles an hour.
The NHC's five-day forecast shows Bertha taking a more northeasterly course that would take it just east of Newfofoundland as it gradually weakens into a tropical storm. If Bertha stays on that course, it would be good news for the entire U.S. East Coast. Presently there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
In his 11 a.m. forecast discussion, NHC forecaster Richard Pasch says Bertha is about to run into some serious trouble. “Dynamical guidance predicts a very large increase in shear beginning in 24-36 hours, and a weakening trend is forecast to begin around that time. In about 72 hours, the global models show the cyclone interacting with a baroclinic zone in the vicinity of Newfoundland, so the NHC forecast shows Bertha becoming extratropical by that time.”
Weather Underground founder Dr. Jeff Masters used more colorful language to describe Bertha in his Monday morning blog entry. “Bertha's satellite presentation was probably the lamest I've even seen for a hurricane, with only a small, misshapen area of heavy thunderstorms, and little in the way of spiral bands. Bertha is headed northwards, and will pass midway between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda. After a short stint as a hurricane later today and on Tuesday, high wind shear and very cool waters of 20°C will convert Bertha into a powerful extratropical storm on Wednesday, halting the intensification process.
While it's still too soon to write off Bertha as any kind of threat to land masses, it is becoming less likely that it will do much more than make for some dangerous conditions for commercial fishermen along the U.S. East Coast and Canada's Maritime Provinces.