Bertha, the first hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, formed last week and became a hurricane Monday in the central Atlantic, about 845 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.

Forecasters said it was too early to say whether or not Bertha would hit land or how long it would retain hurricane strength. However, the storm, now a Category 3 storm, is clocking winds of 115 mph and is expected to strengthen further over the next several days.

Bertha's track at this point shows the storm curving to the northwest in the general direction of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of the year, unleashed heavy rains over Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and Guatemala on June 1, the date which marked the official start of the six-month hurricane season in the Atlantic region.

Forecasters have predicted an active season in the Atlantic with 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).

Next on the name list in the Atlantic are Christobal, Dolly and Edouard.

In the Pacific region, three tropical storms formed last week but dissipated within a couple of days.


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