I’ve been keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Bertha over the last couple of days. As I mentioned on Facebook a few days back, Bertha was going to likely struggle and would have to fight off dry air, which ended up being one of the main factors that kept the system from really strengthening. As of 8 pm ET on August 1st, Bertha’s winds are sustained at 50 mph, and it’s moving west-northwest towards Puerto Rico at 24 mph. The system overall hasn’t really looked too healthy, but tonight, I have noticed that convection is really starting to fire around the center.
The track is going to be key as to whether or not this system will be able to survive by the time it moves into those waters near the Bahamas and off the East Coast. The mountains of the Dominican Republic can really tear a system like this up, but if it only brushes the island, then it should be able to maintain enough of its strength to see some pretty quick strengthening in the warm waters off the East Coast.
That is the region that we are going to have to keep a close watch on all season. Luckily, the trough over the eastern United States and the ridge over the Atlantic will most likely create an upper-level flow that steers this storm out to sea, causing it to miss the East Coast and recurve northeast out to sea.
Remember, those waters off the East Coast are very warm and as this system moves into that region, it’s going to also be in an environment with lighter wind shear. Like I said, if it does miss most of the Dominican Republic, then we may end up seeing Bertha rapidly intensify. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up getting a hurricane out of this if that’s the case.
Again, I do not expect Bertha to hit the United States, but I do plan to keep a close eye on this. It’s good to watch this because it will again confirm that this is the region in the Atlantic to watch this year. It only takes one storm in the season to cause a lot of damage along the East Coast.
Matthew Holliday (Curriculum Vitae - Resume) is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a B.S. in Meteorology and a B.S. in Geographic Information Science. He completed his master's degree in meteorology and climatology at Mississippi State University and is currently pursing a Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.