Bertha becomes first hurricane of 2008 Atlantic season

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hurricane Bertha is expected to become a Category 2 storm, possibly later today.

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 Bertha will actually threaten that island."

Coincidentally, Bertha was also the name of a 1996 hurricane, which formed exactly 12 years ago on July 7.

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See Hurricane Bertha strengthens over Atlantic Ocean