What you see at the top above is the Sea Surface Temperature Analysis from Sunday. If you correlate the location of Bertha with the warming temperatures, you will note that intensification took place as it moved into warmer waters. The satellite image above looks very nice, though there is a flare-up of convenction north and east of the center. Otherwise, it’s become nicely concentric…which again I suspect is more from it getting into a warmer SST environment.
From this point forth, the storm will stay in an sea-surface environment of 80 degrees or greater, which is sufficient to maintain a hurricane. The general track remains true, though the official forcast track is farther east. There are several models that want to break down the ridge in fairly short order and start a turn north fairly soon. Should this happen, then it may even miss Bermuda to the east. Others want to take more time to break down the Mid-Atlantic ridge and so the westward progress would continue for a period before it encounters a trof off the US east coast. This would take the storm between Bermuda and the US mainland. The NHC is basically choosing spot in the middle. All of the models want to increase the intensity before it diminishes due to upper level shearing. However, if you note on the SST map…you see that the water temperatures also back down pretty quickly as you head toward Bermuda. I suspect this will eventually play a role in Bertha’s demise. Nevertheless, there is some question as to when the de-intensification begins. The NHC is decreasing the intensity toward the end of the time frame but not as dramatically as some models indicate…again sorta taking a middle of the road approach. At this point, Bertha is nothing more than a talking point for those who want to somehow link its unprecedented eastern development point so early in the year to global warming or for those who like to trumpet the first storm of the season….OR…if you are going to Bermuda…then it’s an issue. Otherwise, this is largely a concern for academic and maritime interests.