Hurricane Sam experienced something of a renaissance on Wednesday night, growing the strongest we’ve seen the storm in days. The hurricane will likely remain a powerful storm through this weekend as it slowly tracks northwest through the central Atlantic Ocean. Parts of Atlantic Canada should remain on alert for potential impacts early next week.
Thursday morning's update from the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) found Hurricane Sam about 550 km northeast of the northern Leeward Islands, moving northwest at around 19 km/h.
Sam regained its Category 4 status on Wednesday and strengthened even further during the overnight hours. The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds reached 230 km/h early Thursday morning, and the storm’s minimum pressure sank to 937 mb.
“Some fluctuations in intensity are expected during the next couple of days, but Sam is forecast to remain a major hurricane through Saturday, with more significant weakening anticipated later in the weekend,” the NHC says.
The agency’s latest forecast calls for Sam to stay the course as it tracks through the central Atlantic Ocean, slowly picking up speed through this weekend as it rounds the edge of a ridge of high pressure over the northeastern Atlantic.
Swells generated by Sam will impact the Lesser Antilles for the next several days. Swells are expected to reach Bermuda and the Bahamas in a couple of days, and then spread to the United States East Coast late this weekend. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.
Sam is the seventh hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season. Hurricane season traditionally runs from the beginning of June through the end of November.
SAM TO ACCELERATE DURING THE WEEKEND, NEWFOUNDLAND MAY ESCAPE THE WORST
Forecasters are closely watching Sam for potential Canadian impacts, especially with the recent damage in Newfoundland from Hurricane Larry.
During the weekend, Sam is expected to accelerate as the storm turns to the northeast and heads out to sea. While the current track seems to avoid direct impact on Canada's East Coast, people in the region are advised to not let any guards down just yet.
"Confidence is increasing that Sam will track too far to the southeast of Newfoundland to have a direct impact on region other than very rough seas," says Dr. Doug Gillham, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "However, it is still early to completely rule out a track closer to the coast of Newfoundland early next week, so we will continue to keep a close eye on Sam."
Sam isn’t the only storm in the Atlantic anymore.
Tropical Storm Victor formed in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday. Forecasters expect the storm to briefly achieve hurricane intensity over the next few days before slowly weakening. The system will remain far out to sea and should pose no real threat to land.
Following Victor’s formation, there’s just one name left on this year’s list of Atlantic storm names. The next and final name on the list is Wanda.
Once we exhaust this year’s official list of names, all subsequent storms will be named using an alternate list, beginning with Adria.
Be sure to check back for the latest updates on the Atlantic hurricane season.