Tropical Storm Bertha was just spinning up in the waters east of the Lesser Antilles on August 1, 2014 when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua captured this true-color image. At this time, Bertha sported a heavily clouded center of circulation with rain bands curving out from the center.
At 2:00 p.m. EST (1800 UTC), just 40 minutes after this image was captured, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that the storm was about 45 mi (185 km) east of Martinique, and about 115 mi (185 km) north-northwest of Barbados. Winds were 50 mph (85 km/h) and the storm was approaching Martinique at about 22 mph (35 mph). Tropical storm warnings were in effect for St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the eastern Dominican Republic from Cabo Frances Viejo to Isla Saona.
Bertha passed near Puerto Rico then crossed the Dominican Republic on August 2. Fighting wind shear and dry air, it barely maintained tropical storm strength, with winds of nearly 45 mph (72 km/h). Despite this, nearly 40,000 people in Puerto Rico were reported without lost power, and many were left without fresh water as the rains brought flooding across the islands. Earlier, Bertha had cut power to about 150,000 homes on Martinique, as well as causing power outages on Dominica.
After brushing the islands and turning northward, the storm began to strengthen. Bertha became the second hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic season on the morning of August 4, with maximum sustained winds of about 80 mph (130 km/h). Still struggling against unfavorable conditions, it weakened to tropical storm strength once again on August 5, as it turned toward the northeast and passed between Bermuda and the United States.
By 5:00 p.m. EST (1700 UTC) on August 5, the NHC reported that Bertha’s maximum sustained winds were 50 mph (80 km/h) and movement was to the north-northeastward well off the shore of the United States. Slow weakening of the storm is predicted over the next 48 hours, and Bertha is expected to become a post-tropical or extratropical cyclone by August 6 as it picks up speed and moves rapidly across the Atlantic Ocean.