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Tropical Storm Bertha forms in the Atlantic; storm warnings for Barbados, Dominica

This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 10:45 AM EDT shows widely scattered clouds across the Caribbean Basin. A cluster of clouds is present north of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. A tropical wave is struggling to organize well east of the Lesser Antilles as it tracks westward. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

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This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 10:45 AM EDT shows widely scattered clouds across the Caribbean Basin. A cluster of clouds is present north of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. A tropical wave is struggling to organize well east of the Lesser Antilles as it tracks westward. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)

MIAMI - Tropical Storm Bertha has formed, becoming the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami said the tropical storm's maximum sustained winds Thursday night were near 45 mph (75 kph).

The storm is centred about 275 miles (445 kilometres) southeast of Barbados and about 385 miles (620 kilometres) southeast of St. Lucia, and is moving northwest at 20 mph (31 kph).

A tropical storm warning has been issued for Barbados and Dominica. A tropical storm watch has been issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Bertha was expected to pass near Barbados on Friday afternoon and travel through the central Lesser Antilles on Friday evening.

The hurricane centre said little change is expected in the storm's strength over the next couple of days.

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