Hurricane Bertha stalls 220 miles off Bermuda

Other News Materials 12 July 2008 19:13 (UTC +04:00)

Hurricane Bertha was nearly stationary off Bermuda on Saturday but is still likely to create tropical storm conditions as it heads east of the Atlantic island, forecasters said.

Surfers and swimmers remained in the water under sunny skies on Friday despite reports of stronger surf and rip currents along the southern coast, the AP reported.

"I'm not concerned at all," said John Wilson, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who was vacationing in the capital of the wealthy British territory. "If you're going to be on an island during a hurricane, the best thing is to be in a hotel with a nice minibar. And I'm on the second floor, so the waves won't hit me!"

Early Saturday, Bertha's center was about 220 miles ( 360 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda. Forecasters said tropical storm conditions are possible on the island by late Saturday night.

Bertha had maximum sustained winds of about 90 mph (150 kph) with some higher gusting. The storm was barely moving but expected to chug north-northwest at about 5 mph (7 kph) later in the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm is expected to pass well east of Bermuda, although any inclination toward the west would create stronger winds. Bermuda will likely receive up to 2 inches ( 5 centimeters) of rain in the next two days.

"We're on tropical storm watch, but not hurricane watch and that's a plus," said 47-year-old Joanne Cook from New Jersey. "I'll take that."

She said Bertha had only brought bothersome things like large amounts of jellyfish and lionfish.

Bertha became the Atlantic season's first hurricane on July 7 and has vacillated between a Category 1 and 2 storm. The first named storm this year, Arthur, formed in the Atlantic the day before the season officially started June 1 and soaked the Yucatan Peninsula.