Hurricane Bertha was the second named storm and first hurricane of the 1990 Atlantic hurricane season. Bertha developed on July 27 in the western Atlantic Ocean well to the east of northeastern Florida. Bertha ultimately became a hurricane, taking a looping path across the western Atlantic Ocean. Bertha made the transition to an extratropical cyclone on August 2 just as it was approaching Atlantic Canada.
Bertha caused no known damage, but 9 fatalities, all direct.
|Formation||July 27, 1990|
|Dissipation||August 2, 1990|
|Highest winds||80 mph|
|Lowest pressure||973 mbar|
|Areas affected||Florida, Atlantic Canada|
|Part of the||1990 Atlantic hurricane season|
On July 15, a tropical wave exited the coast of Africa and on July 20, it split in the central Atlantic Ocean, with the northern portion of the wave briefly organizing several hundred miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands on July 23. Meanwhile, another tropical wave located to the south of this wave was in the process of developing into Tropical Storm Arthur, and a frontal zone was approaching the East Coast of the United States at this time. By 1200 UTC July 24, an area of low pressure developed ahead of the front while located just southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The northern portion of the tropical wave rapidly weakened due to strong vertical shear while continuing northwestward. During this time, the aforementioned low near Cape Hatteras moved southeastward in tandem with an upper-level low. By 1800 UTC July 25, just as Arthur was entering the Carribean Sea, the northern portion of the original tropical wave was approaching the Cape Hatteras low, and that low began moving southwestward towards Florida. Over the next 36 hours, the low continued drifting to the southwest with little change in organization. At 0600 UTC July 27, it is estimated that the low developed into Tropical Depression Three while located about 290 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida. The cyclone drifted to within 245 miles east-northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida before taking a cyclonic loop to the northeast. At 0000 UTC July 28, based on a ship report of 40 mph surface winds, the depression is estimated to have become Tropical Storm Bertha. Bertha drifted northeastward on July 28, and based on data from a reconnaissance aircraft, the cyclone is estimated to have attained hurricane status at around 0000 UTC July 29 about 465 miles west-southwest of Bermuda. During this time, significant ridging developed along the northeastern United States. Bertha encountered strong vertical shear, and subsequently weakened to a tropical storm at 1800 UTC July 29 while continuing northeastward with an exposed low-level center. During this period, it was speculated whether or not Bertha was becoming a subtropical cyclone, as the deep convection was located about 60-180 miles away from the circulation center.
By 1200 UTC July 30, however, deep convection refired near the center, and the circulation was located underneath a central dense overcast feature. At around this time, Bertha became a hurricane again, based on information from an earlier reconnaissance aircraft flight into the system at 1102 UTC July 30, which found a minimum central pressure of 988 mb, along with flight-level winds of 90 mph. At this point, Bertha was located about 225 miles northwest of Bermuda. Bertha continued northeastward as the ridge to its north was eroding. Bertha briefly turned more westward when the Bermuda-Azores High combined with another area of high pressure located over Newfoundland. Subsequently, the Newfoundland high moved southeastward over the Grand Banks and Bertha consequently moved back to the east. By this time, Bertha was losing its tropical characteristics and it began to accelerate northward on August 1 with the center passing just west of Sable Island late that day. At 0600 UTC August 2, Bertha made the transition to an extratropical cyclone while located over Sydney, Nova Scotia. Bertha's weakening extratropical remnants continued northward over the eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Residents along the East Coast of the United States bought emergency supplies as well as monitor the storm in anticipation of a possible threat from Bertha. The Canadian Hurricane Centre and the National Hurricane Center issued warnings for Nova Scotia and most of Atlantic Canada on July 31 and August 1 due to the threat from Bertha. All watches and warnings for Atlantic Canada were discontinued on August 2 as Bertha became extratropical.
Due to the large circulation of Bertha, high waves were felt along the Eastern Seaboard, as high as 25 to 50 feet along the coast of North Carolina. In Florida, Bertha produced rip currents that caused two drowning deaths. In addition, 200 swimmers had to be rescued from the treacherous seas caused by Bertha's large circulation. Several offshore vessels came into contact with the cyclone, many of which reported sustained tropical storm force winds. A Canadian ship reported a pressure of 985 mb. The only reported shipwrecked caused by Bertha was when the ship Corazon capsized during the storm. At the time of its sinking, the ship was located offshore Cape Cod, was being battered by winds in excess of 78 mph, along with waves as high as 30 feet. The high seas caused the keel of the vessel to break, which prompted the crew to send a distress signal and evacuate the sinking ship. One crewman drowned during the evacuation when he was attempting to board a lifeboat; his body would later be found by a Soviet merchant ship. Another merchant ship, the Vyapel, located 12 of the 27 sailors onboard a raft. The crew of the Vyapel attempted to rescue the aforementioned sailors, but their efforts were in vain as high seas caused the raft to drift near the ship's rudder and propeller area. Turbulence produced by the ship's rudder knocked seven people into the ocean, with five of them drowning. A search continued for their bodies continued until the following day. The remaining 21 sailors were eventually rescued by crews of other freighters and merchant ships. An investigation undertook by the United States Coast Guard indicated that the lifeboats onboard the Corozan were in too poor a condition to be used during an emergency such as this one.
Bertha produced tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall across Atlantic Canada, with two weather stations at Braddeck, Nova Scotia as well as Hunters Mountain recording over 7 inches of rain from the storm. Bertha produced a wind gust of 71 mph along with 4.72 inches of rain on Prince Edward Island. A weather station in Port-au-Basques recorded a wind gust in excess of 63 mph, along with 2.51 inches of rain. Bertha's strong winds caused moderate damage to tobacco and corn crops on Prince Edward Island, and the winds damaged a suspension bridge in Nova Scotia. Bertha's heavy rainfall also caused some minor flooding to a golf course. At Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, six people were injured when Bertha's waves swept them out to sea. Total damage in Atlantic Canada from Bertha is not known.
Lack of Retirement
Due to the relatively minor damage produced by the hurricane, the name Bertha was not retired in the Spring of 1991 by the World Meteorological Organization. Bertha is on the list of names to be used for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.