If such weakening takes place, it would not necessary mean the demise of Bertha as restrengthening could occur in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, well off the coast of the southeastern United States.
Regardless of its classification, Bertha will still continue to impact communities from the central Caribbean islands to the southeastern Bahamas through Sunday.
Schedule for Bertha's Impacts
Disruptions from Bertha will tend to be brief over the Caribbean islands to the southeastern Bahamas. "Impacts from Bertha this weekend will last no more than 12 to 18 hours in a particular location," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Rob Miller.
Impacts from the rather swift-moving storm will spread from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic through Saturday night, then the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas on Sunday.
A general 2 to 4 inches of rain is forecast across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but local amounts of 6 inches are possible. That is especially true along the slopes of the mountains.
Rain amounts will generally be on the order of 1 to 3 inches across the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas. Surf will also increase across the Bahamas through Sunday as Bertha approaches.
Bertha is also kicking up winds strong enough to cause some damage to structures and sporadic power outages. Wind will become less of an issue if Bertha weakens.
Minimal impact is forecast farther west on Hispaniola for Haiti, but there can be a couple of locally heavy thunderstorms.
No impact is forecast farther west in the Caribbean, such as Jamaica and central Cuba.
Beyond the Bahamas, Bertha is forecast to curve more to the north then to the northeast. This projected path will keep direct impacts offshore of the U.S. Only a shift farther west than expected would bring the system right along the East coast.
The surf can become rough from northeastern Florida to North Carolina for a time early next week. The greatest risk to bathers will be an uptick in the strength and number of rip currents.
As Bertha interacts with a front pushing off the east coast of the U.S. at midweek, some rain could reach Bermuda. "The system is being steered by the Bermuda-Azores high pressure area," AccuWeather.com Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Wind shear has been impacting Bertha, preventing thunderstorms from wrapping uniformly around the center of circulation. Wind shear is a zone of strong winds at mid-levels of the atmosphere blowing from the southwest, west or northwest that can prevent a tropical system from forming or limit the intensity of a formed tropical system.
According to Rob Miller, "In addition to problems with wind shear along the projected path, the mountainous terrain of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola will disrupt the wind flow of the storm as it approaches."
There is a chance that if Bertha survives the encounter with the large islands of the Caribbean this weekend, it could strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane while off the East Coast of the U.S. by midweek.
While restrengthening could still occur off the East Coast, it would be more difficult for Bertha to become a hurricane if the mountains of Hispaniola force Bertha to lose its tropical storm status.
The system battled and survived wind shear, cool water and dry air over the southern Atlantic earlier in the week.
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