PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands (AP/WAVY) — Hurricane Bertha formed in the Atlantic Ocean Monday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, but is currently not posing an immediate threat to land as it passes along the U.S. East Coast.
As a Tropical Storm, Bertha buffeted parts of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos with rain and gusty winds Sunday, after passing over the Dominican Republic and causing temporary evacuation of dozens of families as its downpours raised rivers out of their banks. Earlier, it dumped rain on Puerto Rico, which has been parched by unusually dry weather.
People in the Bahamas reported mostly sunny weather as Bertha’s center moved off into the Atlantic on Sunday afternoon.
“We had some cloudiness earlier this morning. But right now it is sunshine, no breeze,” said Bernard Ferguson, an employee at a resort on remote Crooked Island.
Before Bertha reached the Turks & Caicos, residents pulled boats ashore or moored them at marinas in the tourism-dependent archipelago that has little natural protection from strong storm surges. Tourism Director Ralph Higgs said hotels were “taking the threat of the storm seriously.”
On the southernmost Bahamian island of Inagua, people had been advised Saturday to make preparations for protecting their properties. But many islanders instead focused on completing a popular sailing regatta before the storm ruined the fun.
“We’re all partying because it’s homecoming regatta. Honestly, no one’s focusing on the weather,” said Shakera Forbes on Inagua, one of roughly 30 inhabited islands of the sprawling Bahamas archipelago off Florida’s east coast.
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