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Hurricane Bertha's Burst of Strength Stumps Experts

National Geographic News

As powerful Hurricane Bertha churns far out in the Atlantic Ocean, meteorologists are wondering why the storm suddenly gathered strength and escalated from a minimal hurricane to a major one in only a few hours.

By around 3 a.m. EDT Monday, Bertha had barely reached hurricane status with winds of about 75 miles (120 kilometers) an hour.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida, predicted that the storm would not intensify much beyond that.

But 12 hours later Bertha's strongest winds had ramped up to 115 miles (185 kilometers) an hour, making it a Category Three storm and the first major hurricane of the 2008 season.

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