Tropical storm Bertha has more convection with it this morning but it is displaced to the east of the low level center as seen in early morning satellite imagery. This is due to the fact that upper level winds are running in to the storm instead of going with it – thus the deep thunderstorms are pushed off to the east while the storm travels westward.
Top winds are still 45 mph and the pressure is not falling much at all. Unless Bertha can wrap the deep thunderstorms around the center and develop a more organized core, it will not strengthen much. There is a chance this could happen as forecast by many of the intensity models. In fact, the statistical SHIPS model makes Bertha a hurricane but well after it passes through the Caribbean Sea.
Today, the main issue will be heavy rain and brief squally weather for portions of the eastern Caribbean as Bertha closes in from the east. The worst of the weather will be felt where the deep convection is located. It is impossible to tell with such a poorly organized system how this will play out in the coming hours. Local radar from the Caribbean will help but people in the region need to be ready for the potential of tropical storm force winds, rough seas and very heavy rain – again, mainly where the deep convection is located. Outside of that, the lighter rain bands will not have much impact other than an increase in wind and rain.
For Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, again, a lot has to do with how well organized Bertha becomes. Water temps are only going to rise along its path but if the shear and dry do not relent much, then Bertha could remain more of a rain maker than anything else. This is still a problem, especially for mountainous terrain but the rain itself is much needed for the region – hopefully just not too much at one time.
Once Bertha tracks out of the Caribbean, it should remain just to the east of the Bahamas as it nears the western edge of the Bermuda High and begins to turn northward. At this point, it could begin to strengthen and may have a shot at becoming a hurricane before turning out to sea. This could bring a couple of days of increased swells and coastal rip currents to parts of the Southeast coast. Surfers will love this but swimmers, especially children and those who are not used to such conditions, may be at risk from the rougher than normal surf. Check your local NWS site for more details on this potential hazard next week.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, all is quiet on this first day of August.
As I mentioned yesterday, the east Pacific remains quite busy overall but everything is remaining well away from land and will remain that way for the time being.
I’ll post more on Bertha early this evening.
M. Sudduth 9:02 AM ET Aug 1