Atlantic sees first hurricane

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, July 9, 2008

There are few anomalies on earth that can move at 12 mph and 115 mph at the same time. Enter Bertha, the first hurricane of the tropical season.

Bertha has moved to a Category 3 hurricane from Category 1 as of 4 p.m. yesterday according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham. She is forecasted to be within striking distance of Bermuda by Saturday said meteorologist Holly Allen.

Bertha began her journey across the Atlantic last Thursday off the coast of Africa.

The hurricane is currently 1,150 miles southeast of Bermuda or 130 miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands. Her path is not predicted to make U.S. landfall.

“It will likely stay out to sea,” said Allen.

Bertha’s predicted path shows the hurricane moving west and turning northwest, just east of Bermuda. She is moving at a 12 mph creeping pace, but can have treacherous winds reaching 130 mph.

A Category 3 hurricane is approximately middle intensity on the 5-tier Saffir-Simpson scale. Winds for a Category 3 stand between 111 to 130 mph, but Allen said wind is not the only damaging factor of hurricane activity.

The amount of storm surge and rainfall can impact damage as well she said. An example of this type of hurricane is best remembered as Ivan. Ivan, the strongest storm of the 2004 season, ravaged the Gulf Coast and was responsible for 24 U.S. deaths. It only made landfall at Category 3.

Tropical storm Arthur started the tropical season early just before June 1, but never progressed to hurricane status.

The NWS predicts a 90 percent chance of near normal to above normal activity in the Atlantic region. About 12 to 16 tropical systems, six to nine hurricanes and two to five severe hurricanes are forecast for the 2008 season.

For more updates on Hurricane Bertha, visit the National Hurricane Center’s Web site at