Hurricane Bertha is not a threat to South Florida. But there may still be a reason why we should take note of this hurricane.
Most of the tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic occurs during the peak period August through October. The National Hurricane Center’s web site shows that, on average, the second named storm occurs on August 6th and the first hurricane occurs on August 14th. Obviously, there is a lot of variation but this is what is typical based over a long period of time. So what does it mean that we have the first hurricane – Bertha – so early in July?
There is no good correlation between when the season starts and the overall seasonal activity for the Atlantic. The overall number of named storms in June and July (JJ) does not mean much in telling us how active the remainder of the season will be. However, it is unusual that Bertha got named over the far eastern tropical Atlantic this early in the season.
Stanley Goldenberg, a research meteorologist with NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, has shown “…if one looks only at the June-July Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes occurring south of 22°N and east of 77°W (the eastern portion of the Main Development Region [MDR] for Atlantic hurricanes), there is a strong association with activity for the remainder of the year. According to the data from 1944-1999, total overall Atlantic activity for years that had a tropical storm or hurricane form in this region during JJ have been at least average and often times above average. So it could be said that a JJ storm in this region is pretty much a “sufficient” (though not “necessary”) condition for a year to produce at least average activity. (I.e., Not all years with average to above-average total overall activity have had a JJ storm in that region, but almost all years with that type of JJ storm produce average to above-average activity.)”
No one can tell you with any certainty where the hurricanes will strike this year. But to me, Stanley Golderberg’s research sounds like another good reason to dust off your hurricane plan.