Category 3 Hurricane Bertha delayed sailing events at the 1996 Atlanta Games

On this day in weather history, Hurricane Bertha made landfall.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Friday, July 12, 1996, Hurricane Bertha made landfall over North Carolina. It was the hurricane of the 1996 Atlantic season. It formed July 5 and fully dissipated on July 18, reaching Category 3 status. The storm impacted areas from the Leeward Islands to the United States. Bertha reached Atlanta, Georgia, where the 1996 Summer Olympics were taking place.

The first signs of the storm were observed from a tropical wave off of the coast of Africa. By July 3, the disturbance was a weak low-level circulation south of Cape Verde. By July 5, it developed into a tropical depression in the central Atlantic. Bertha gained hurricane status on July 7, sustaining winds of 120 km/h.

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"Hurricane Bertha at peak intensity just north of the Dominican Republic on July 9, 1996." Courtesy of Wikipedia

On July 8, Bertha moved over Antigua as Bertha and Saint Maarten. By July 9, the storm moved toward Puerto Rico, sustaining winds up to 185 km/h. Bertha reached peak intensity near Turks and Caicos.

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On July 12, Bertha made landfall and quickly lost its hurricane intensity. It accelerated along the East Coast of the United States, sustaining winds up to 100 km/h.

Bertha's status changed to extratropical after July 14 and dissipated by the 18th. The Olympic Games opening ceremonies took place on July 19.

The Olympic sailing events took place at Wassaw Sound, a bay of the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Georgia.

Bertha shook up the East Coast as sailors were supposed to start their competition. The athletes needed to wait onshore as the waters were too choppy to compete or practice. The athletes took their boats on land or tied them up and headed to the athletes' Village.

Precautions were taken and no one was injured and the competition resumed a week later.

To learn more about Hurricane Bertha and the 1996 Olympic Games, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail: "Hurricane Bertha at peak intensity just north of the Dominican Republic on July 9, 1996." Courtesy of Wikipedia