Tropical Storm Bertha formed in the Atlantic today at a record-setting location that suggests an active hurricane season, meteorologist Jeff Masters blogs:
Today's formation of Bertha at 25 degrees West longitude is the farthest east a tropical storm has ever formed in the Atlantic so early in the season. It is also the farthest east a tropical storm has formed in the month of July. Reliable records of Eastern Atlantic storms go back to 1967, the beginning of the geostationary satellite era.
Is the formation of Bertha a harbinger of an active hurricane season?
Probably. According the the Hurricane FAQ, "as shown in (Goldenberg 2000), if one looks only at the June-July Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes occurring south of 22 degrees N and east of 77 degrees W (the eastern portion of the Main Development Region [MDR] for Atlantic hurricanes), there is a strong association with activity for the remainder of the year."
Current models forecast a path for Bertha that will curve north and miss the U.S., but there's not a lot of confidence in that prediction yet.