Hurricane season: Re-Bertha?

North Carolina, particularly North Topsail beach on the extreme southeast coast, became a hurricane punching bag in the 1990s.

One of those storms, Bertha, in July 1996, the first of four significant hurricanes to make landfall in the’90s, was blamed for 12 deaths and putting a damper – and then some – on the tourism business.

By the time it got up this way, passing through New Jersey, it had weakened to a tropical storm and was not particularly destructive.

Bertha’s resume was impressive, but not quite impressive enough to have its name retired, and it so happens that the next named storm – one with peak winds of least 39 m.p.h. -- in the Atlantic Basin this season will bear the name Bertha.

The National Hurricane Center is seeing a 70 percent likelihood that mass off Cape Verde will congeal into a tropical storm by the end of the week.

If that were to happen, normality would rule. On average, according to the hurricane center, two named storms form in the Basin, which includes the Gulf and the Caribbean, by Aug. 1.

Just in time for the July Fourth weekend, Arthur, the season’s first named storm, became 2014’s first Atlantic hurricane.

Arthur was precocious; typically, the first hurricane doesn’t form until August.

The consensus forecast still calls for a mild season. In part, that’s based on the formation of an El Nino in the tropical Pacific.

 During El Nino, the warming of surface waters result in upper-air winds from the west that can snuff out potential Atlantic hurricanes.

The Climate Prediction Center still expects one to take hold, however, in its weekly update it notes that the water temperatures out that way are very close to normal.

In any event, what is almost certain is that the next several days around here are going to be fabulous, almost hard to believe for the end of July.

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