Hurricane Sam is rapidly intensifying in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and will soon become a Category 4 hurricane.
Sam became the seventh hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season early Friday morning just 24 hours after it was Tropical Depression Eighteen. This upgrade from the National Hurricane Center is based on infrared satellite imagery showing a compact inner core of thunderstorms and microwave satellite imagery taken just before midnight Eastern Time showing an incipient eye.
Fluctuations in intensity due to replacement of Sam’s eyewall can be expected beyond this weekend, but Sam is still expected to remain a formidably strong hurricane well into next week. Sam is a small hurricane with both its tropical storm-force and hurricane-force winds covering a small area relative to other hurricanes.Rapid intensification, defined as an increase in maximum winds of at least 35 mph in 24 hours or less, is common in small hurricanes like Sam.
It’s uncertain whether it will strike the Leeward Islands next week. Despite Sam’s rapid intensification, it’s not yet clear if Sam will ever threaten land, but it will slow down. Sam’s forward speed will slow this weekend, as high pressure to its north acting as its initial steering wheel weakens. According to the latest computer forecast models, Sam may not reach the longitude of the Leeward Islands until next Wednesday or Thursday. Whether it passes over parts of the islands or bypasses them to the north is still unclear, at this time.