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Bermuda expects slight punch from hurricane

  • Story Highlights
  • Bertha forecast to deal Atlantic island glancing blow
  • Category 1 storm 210 miles southeast of Bermuda
  • Stationary hurricane expected to resume moving later Saturday
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- After numerous fluctuations in intensity, Hurricane Bertha was again clinging to hurricane status as it remained nearly stationary off the coast of Bermuda on Saturday, poised to deal a glancing blow to the Atlantic island, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 11 p.m. ET the center of Bertha was about 220 miles (350 km) southeast of Bermuda. Its maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 75 mph, barely Category 1 hurricane strength, with higher gusts.

A tropical storm warning, meaning tropical storm conditions including winds of at least 39 mph are expected within 24 hours, remained in effect for Bermuda.

Bertha had slowed to a near-stop, but forecasters said it was expected to begin moving slowly north on Sunday and would continue doing so for the next couple of days.

"On this track, the center of Bertha is expected to slowly pass to the southeast and east of Bermuda, but the motion could occasionally be erratic," the hurricane center said.

Bertha's outer bands are expected to dump up to 2 inches of rain on Bermuda over the next few days. The storm already has caused large swells and high surf on the island.

Although Bermuda is nearly 900 miles off the coast of the North Carolina, beaches from New Jersey to the Carolinas could see increased swells and rip currents this weekend as a result of Bertha, CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras said.

Bertha's intensity has fluctuated. At its peak, it was a major Category 3 hurricane with top winds of 120 mph. Its wind speed dropped to 75 mph, barely hurricane strength, before picking up once again and reaching Category 2 intensity late Wednesday, with top sustained winds of 105 mph. But forecasters said Saturday little change in strength is forecast for the next few days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from Bertha's center. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles, forecasters said.

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Bertha is the first hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic season. It formed July 3 off the coast of Africa near the southern Cape Verde Islands. It strengthened into a hurricane early Monday.

The first tropical storm of the season, Arthur, formed May 31 near the coast of Belize and dumped heavy rain on Central America and southern Mexico.

All About Hurricane BerthaHurricanes and CyclonesBermuda

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