Tropical Storm Bertha Develops in Atlantic
By Courtney Spamer, Meteorologist
August 01, 2014; 4:50 AM
Tropical Storm Bertha has developed in the Atlantic Ocean, making it the second named tropical system in the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Early Thursday night, the tropical system strengthened to the point of becoming a tropical storm with sustained winds of 45 mph.
Earlier this week, wind shear and cool waters were inhibiting the system. At midweek, dry air was preventing the system from developing.
Bertha has moved into an area with water temperatures in the lower 80s and lower wind shear, both of which allowed for the system to intensify and become Tropical Storm Bertha.
Wind shear is a zone of strong winds at middle levels of the atmosphere that typically blow from the southwest, west or northwest. These winds can cause an organized tropical system to weaken or prevent one from forming in the first place.
According to AccuWeather.com Tropical Expert Dan Kottlowski, the system has a well-defined, low-level circulation center.
The tropical storm is forecast to take a curved, elliptical path around the high pressure area over the Atlantic, but that exact path will be dependent on the strength of the system.
"A weaker system will track more to the west before making the curved path, while a stronger tropical storm early on could cause the system to curve east of the Leeward Islands," Kottlowski said.
At this point, for the coming weekend, "the Leeward and northern part of the Windward islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the areas being monitored very closely," Kottlowski added.
The National Hurricane Center has already issued tropical storm watches and warnings for portions of the Lesser Antilles as well as tropical storm watches for Puerto Rico.
Disruptions from the system will tend to be brief over the islands.
"Impact from the system will be locally heavy rains and gusty winds for a 24- to 36-hour period, depending on the track and strength of the system," Kottlowski said.
The timing of the system's showers and thunderstorms would be Friday night in the Leeward and northern Windward islands then the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico on Saturday.
While the system may cause minor disruptions for people vacationing in the region, portions of the Caribbean islands are in need of rain. For example, since Jan. 1, 2014, San Juan, Puerto Rico, with about 23 inches of rain has only received about two-thirds of its average for the year so far.
Bertha could track close enough to Bermuda during the middle of next week to bring some rainfall.
The relatively quiet Atlantic tropical season so far in 2014 is not that uncommon. Although the season officially begins on June 1, the most active period does not really get going until mid-August.
It is at this time when the waters across the Atlantic are the warmest, and typically, the dry air and wind shear taper off.
Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed content to this story.