Bertha no longer hurricane, heads north

Little low pressure near Jacksonville helps deflect tropical storm

By Alison Lowe, Associated Press, and News4Jax staff, John Gaughan - Chief meteorologist
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bertha weakened to a tropical storm just a day after becoming a hurricane as it moves northward in the Atlantic, posing no direct threat to the U.S. East Coast.

The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 65 mph early Tuesday with gradual weakening expected over the next two days.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Bertha is forecast to pass midway between the East Coast and Bermuda later in the morning.

The storm is centered about 475 miles west of Bermuda and is moving north-northeast near 22 mph.

On Sunday, the storm buffeted parts of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos with rain and gusty winds, after passing over the Dominican Republic. Earlier, it dumped rain on Puerto Rico.

Local conditions kept Bertha at bay

A small region of low pressure is just east of Jacksonville Beach, it is associated with a larger trough of upper winds that is deflecting Bertha way from the United States.

Historically, August storms tend to travel more westerly and frequently (not always) cut through the Caribbean Sea and hit land areas from Cuba to Mexico to the United States. 

Bertha has been slowly turning more northward and soon to be northeastward away from the United States. 

Why? The biggest reason is related to the unusually cool summer in the Eastern United States.  An unusually strong Great Lakes low pressure has anchored a stronger than normal flow of southwesterly winds along the east coast of the United States.  This has deflected both Aurthur and Bertha to pass just along or just east of the United States.

Medium range forecast patterns suggest that it will persist at least into the end of August, which is a good thing, in case the next storm heads towards the United States. 

Better, of course, would be if it could persist throughout the rest of the hurricane season.

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