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Bertha reaches hurricane status but isn't forecast to strike land

Bertha, the Atlantic's second named storm of the season, became the second to reach hurricane status as well Monday morning.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph as of 11 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. It was about 230 miles northeast of the Bahamas, and is forecast to pass about midway between the U.S. Atlantic coast and Bermuda, not directly affecting either.

The hurricane center forecasts little change in Bertha's strength Monday and most of Tuesday, before the storm is expected to weaken.

Forecasters noted that despite its hurricane status, the storm is relatively "unimpressive" as far as tropical cyclones go.

"In spite of its unimpressive appearance on satellite imagery, with scant evidence of banding features and relatively disorganized deep convection, aerial reconnaissance data indicate that Bertha has intensified into a hurricane," center forecasters wrote in a discussion.

Bertha's timing falls in line with long-term hurricane season averages -- the second named storm typically arrives by Aug. 1, and Bertha became a tropical storm July 31. But it is unusual to have two hurricanes already by this point in the year. The season's first hurricane typically comes by Aug. 10, and the second by Aug. 28, according to the hurricane center.

It's also unusual for the first two storms of the season to both reach hurricane status, which requires maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph. The last time it happened was 1992, which began with Hurricane Andrew's devastation of Florida and then brought hurricanes Bonnie and Charley, neither of which affected land as hurricanes.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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