Tropical Storm Sam forms; will likely be hurricane by Friday, forecasters say

A satellite photo provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Sam, lower right, on Thursday. Sam is the 18th named storm of a busy 2021 hurricane season, and the fourth to form in less than a week.
Caption
A satellite photo provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Sam, lower right, on Thursday. Sam is the 18th named storm of a busy 2021 hurricane season, and the fourth to form in less than a week.

Too early to tell where storm might end up

Tropical Storm Sam, the 18th named storm of the season, is expected to be at hurricane strength by Friday and could be a major hurricane with top winds of 111 mph by late Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Sam formed Thursday from Tropical Depression Eighteen and was moving west at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, as of 11 a.m. Thursday, about 1,745 miles east-southeast of the boundary where the Atlantic Ocean meets the far eastern Caribbean Sea. It is forecast to move west-northwest by Friday.

Tropical Storm Sam, the 18th named storm of the 2021 season, is forecast to be a hurricane Friday, then strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane by early next week.
Caption
Tropical Storm Sam, the 18th named storm of the 2021 season, is forecast to be a hurricane Friday, then strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane by early next week.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

It will move more slowly over the weekend as it reaches hurricane strength, forecasters said. If its maximum sustained winds reach 115 mph as forecast, it would be at Category 3 hurricane strength, making it the fourth major hurricane of 2021.

“The faster that this system strengthens over the next few days, the more likely it is to re-curve east of Florida, and potentially well east of Florida ... [However] if this storm takes a little while longer to organize and develop into a hurricane, then that will likely keep it on a track that's farther to the south and likely increase the likelihood that Florida could see some impacts from this system."

- AccuWeather meteorologist Randy Adkins

It’s too early to tell where it might end up, but the next few days could be crucial toward forecasting its track. A fast-developing storm raises the likelihood it misses Florida.

“The faster that this system strengthens over the next few days, the more likely it is to re-curve east of Florida, and potentially well east of Florida,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Randy Adkins.

“[However] if this storm takes a little while longer to organize and develop into a hurricane, then that will likely keep it on a track that’s farther to the south and likely increase the likelihood that Florida could see some impacts from this system.”

Adkins said any potential impact from the system wouldn’t be felt for another 10 days or so, during the first weekend of October.

Meanwhile, a tropical wave is expected to roll off Africa’s west coast by end of the weekend. It’s forecast to move west at 10 to 15 mph and right now chances for its development are low.

There is also a medium chance that the remnants of the former Tropical Storm Odette could redevelop and become a subtropical storm later this week. It is in the northern Atlantic and is no threat to land.

Adkins expects hurricane season will remain busy for the next few weeks.

“There’s definitely precedent, and unfortunately it seems like last year is a relatively close match for this year in terms of how things have evolved,” he said in reference to the record 30 named storms of the 2020 hurricane season.

“Obviously, last year was a bit busier but we’re well above average already to date with this hurricane season. Given that, I would anticipate we’re going to have activity continue through the remainder of the month and into October.”

The wind shear that kept former tropical storms Peter and Rose from developing into stronger storms is expected to be weak for the next several days, supporting the development of Sam. Warm water temperatures are also fueling its development.

“Rose and Peter were in a much more hostile environment, especially Peter,” said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesperson for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “What will become Sam will certainly be growing into a tropical storm, a hurricane and a major hurricane.”

Tropical Depression Rose was a remnant low by early Thursday, and Tropical Depression Peter was no more.

The remaining storm names for the 2021 season are Teresa, Victor and Wanda, with more than two months to go.

Should we run out of storm names, late-season storms will no longer carry baffling Greek names such as Zeta and Theta that were used last year. Experts have opted to use an overflow list of proper names instead. The list includes Adria, Braylen, Caridad, Deshawn, Emery, Foster, Gemma and Heath.

So far in the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30, there have been 18 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

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