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Tropical Storm Bertha was the second named storm of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season. Bertha was a minimal tropical storm that formed on August 4 from a trough of low pressure. It made landfall as a tropical storm in eastern Louisiana, then it moved southwest across the state and re-emerged into the Gulf of Mexico on August 7. Bertha ultimately made its second and final landfall in southern Texas as a tropical depression. Bertha is only one of three tropical cyclones to strike both Texas and Louisiana, the other two being Hurricane Fern of 1971 and Tropical Storm Allison of 2001. Bertha dissipated on August 9.

Bertha caused only $200,000 (2002 USD) in damage. It caused 1 direct fatality as well.

Tropical Storm Bertha making landfall
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FormationAugust 4, 2002
Dissipation August 9, 2002
Highest winds 40 mph
Lowest pressure 1007 mbar
Deaths 1 direct
Damages $200,000 (2002 USD)
Areas affected Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas

Meteorological History

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A non-tropical surface trough of low pressure extended from the northern Gulf of Mexico across Florida and into the western Atlantic Ocean. On August 3, the western portion of the trough developed a low-pressure area. The eastern portion of the trough slowly organized and ended up ultimately developing into Tropical Storm Cristobal. The Gulf low steadily organized, and late on August 4, the low became organized enough for the National Hurricane Center to classify it as Tropical Depression Two while located about 40 miles east of Port Eads, Louisiana. Initially, northeasterly wind shear prevented the cloud pattern from organizing. Despite this, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Bertha just five hours after forming. Bertha developed well-defined outflow and well-defined banding features in the northern semicircle upon becoming a tropical storm. Though convection waned with Bertha, forecasters predicted the friction between land and the warm atmosphere to redevelop more deep convection, potentially resulting in further strengthening. Despite this, Bertha failed to intensify further, and made landfall near Boothville, Louisiana on August 5 as a minimal tropical storm. Bertha slowly weakened over the swampy areas of southeastern Louisiana and after crossing Lake Pontchartrain later on August 5, Bertha weakened to a tropical depression.

It was initially expected that a ridge to the north of the cyclone would steer it on a westward course and cause it to slowly dissipate. However, Bertha instead turned to the southwest and re-emerged into the Gulf of Mexico on August 7. Bertha's circulation persisted overland, and it quickly re-developed deep convection near its center of circulation. Although the environment was favorable for intensification, its prolonged period overland as well as its close proximity to the Texas coastline prevented Bertha from re-strengthening into a tropical storm. Although Bertha showed periods of increased organization as it moved southwest, it remained a tropical depression until its south Texas landfall east of Kingsville on August 9. Bertha rapidly weakened after landfall, and it dissipated 10 hours after making landfall.

Preparations

As Bertha became a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Warning from Pascagoula, Mississippi to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The warning was issued 90 minutes before Bertha's landfall. When Bertha weakened to a tropical depression over Louisiana, all warnings were discontinued. Due to the improbability of Bertha re-intensifying into a tropical storm, no watches or warnings were required for Texas.

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Bertha as a tropical depression near its Texas landfall.

The National Weather Service advised boats along the Gulf Coast to remain at port. In addition, the NWS issued a Coastal Flood Watch from Alabama to through the Florida Panhandle. Also, a Flood Watch was issued for portions of eastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.

Impact

Florida

The precursor disturbance to Bertha produced high surf and rip currents along the Florida coastline. In Perdido Key State Recreation Area, two children were swimming in an unguarded area when they were swept area by the currents. The grandfather of the children attempted to rescue them, but he drowned in the rough seas. Fortunately, another family rescued the two children. Bertha's large circulation produced light rainfall across Florida, with Pensacola and Destin reporting 2.75 inches of rain from the storm.

Alabama

Extreme southern portions of Alabama picked up over 3 inches of rain from the cyclone, while the western portion of Dauphin Island picked up over 5 inches of rain.

Mississippi

When Bertha made landfall, Waveland reported a storm surge of 4.12 feet. Sustained winds peaked at 31 mph, with a peak gust of 41 mph occuring. Bertha produced moderate to heavy rainfall across southern Mississippi, including a total of 10.25 inches in Pascagoula. In Moss Point, the flooding which resulted from the heavy rainfall entered 15 to 20 houses and also entered several cars. In addition, the rainfall flooded several streets and roadways. Total damage in Mississippi from Bertha reached $50,000 (2002 USD).

Louisiana

In Louisiana, where Bertha made landfall, a peak rainfall amount of 10.25 inches was reported in Norwood. Storm tides were generally 1-2 feet above normal, while the mouth of the Bayou Dupre recorded a storm tide of 3.79 feet above normal. The heavy rainfall resulted in flash flooding in some locations, and also led to a few overflown rivers in St. Tammany Parish. The flooding covered several roadways, bridges, and also entered a few businesses and houses in East Feliciana Parish. Total damage in Lousiana is estimated at $150,000 (2002 USD).

Texas

Bertha produced a storm tide of 3 feet at Baffin Bay. Only light rainfall fell across Texas, with a few isolated areas receiving over an inch of rain from the cyclone.

Lack of Retirement

Because damage was very minimal, the name Bertha was not retired in the Spring of 2003 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2002 Atlantic hurricane season

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_Storm_Bertha_%282002%29

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