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Tropical Storm Bertha – Surf Outlook

by on Friday 1st August, 2014   20008 Visits   Comments

Sat 2nd Update

If Bertha survives the challenges we outlined below she looks slightly more likely to strengthen as she emerges into the Atlantic at the beginning of next week with NHC’s 5 Day advisory putting here at a possible Hurricane strength by Wednesday. The reality for surfers is somewhat unchanged however. The track at no stage predicted to deliver the bulk of any swell producing energy to surfable coastlines - however a modest summer swell relief in the form a weak side swipe looks likely with neither the power, nor the incredibly short lived rise and fall we saw with Hurricane Arthur. We’ll update on Monday by which time the outlook should be much clearer.


The storm system is currently located at 12.6N/56.3W, about 345 km East of Barbados. With maximum sustained winds of 45 mph moving on a WNW path at 30 km/h towards the East Coast of the US, the question on the tip everyones tongue is: Will Bertha be upgraded to hurricane status?

At this stage, an upgrade to a hurricane seems unlikely. The conditions for the intensification of the storm are not optimal as it moves towards Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for the weekend.

There are three main factors coming together to withhold Bertha from developing into a Hurricane and therefore limiting surfing conditions for the US East Coast:

  • Wind shear (conflicting wind direction) expected to disrupt the storms progress.

  • Dry air surrounding the storm will impede it’s development.

  • The storm’s direction through the Caribbean will reduce it’s strength.

These limitations stop a major increase in swell caused by Bertha, that being said, the predicted storm track will allow at least modest swell to develop for most US East Coast locations, as Bertha heads north. After moving over the Bahamas, the storm is predicted to move into the high pressure area located over the Central Atlantic.

Although the bulk of the swell isn’t particularly large, it should produce better conditions than in the run up to it’s arrival. Central Florida is likely to see small, clean waves as the best of the swell, 3ft@10secs, arrives midday on Tuesday. North Carolina’s Outer Banks are set to receive 5ft@11secs as the swell moves further north. Midday on Wednesday, New Jersey, is expected to receive 3.5ft@9secs with very light offshore winds. Unlike its predecessor, Hurricane Arthur, Bertha’s swell should arrive at helpful times up and down the coast, so there’s no excuses for not getting waves.

As always check your local forecast or our Hurricane Center for the latest information.

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