Hurricane Sam continued to strengthen on Sunday as it moved northwest across the Atlantic Ocean, forecasters said.
The Category 4 hurricane was 880 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour , according to the National Hurricane Center.
A subtropical ridge northeast of the hurricane is expected to direct it northwest for the next three to four days. Sam should then veer north-northwest and start increasing his speed but he should not threaten the earth, the center said.
Forecasters called the storm “small but fierce” and said it is expected to remain a major hurricane for several days.
“It wouldn’t take much more expansion of the convection and cooling of the cloud tops above Sam’s innermost core for it to become a rare Category 5 hurricane on the Wind Scale. Hurricane Saffir-Simpson, ”the center said. “While plausible, given ideal environmental conditions over the next few days, this strengthening should not explicitly occur.”
The Saffir-Simpson scale classifies major hurricanes in Category 3 or higher, with maximum sustained winds above 110 mph Category 4 storms have wind speeds of 130 to 156 mph
Swells generated by the hurricane are expected to reach the Lesser Antilles early this week and could potentially cause life-threatening surf and break-current conditions, the center said. There was no coastal watch or warning in effect.
Sam, which formed in the central Atlantic on Thursday, is the fourth named storm to develop in less than a week and the 18th overall in a busy 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Subtropical Storm Teresa formed north of Bermuda on Friday, becoming the 19th named storm of the hurricane season. Teresa fizzled out over the weekend and “no longer meets the definition of a tropical cyclone,” the hurricane center said on Saturday.
After Sam and Teresa, the next named storms would be Victor and Wanda.
If forecasters scan the list, they’ll look to an additional set of names approved by the World Meteorological Organization this year. This list starts with Adria, followed by Braylen and Caridad.
“With more than two months to go before the hurricane season, it is certainly possible that the list of names for Atlantic 2021 is exhausted,” Feltgen said.
Last year there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and use the Greek letters. These are the most named storms on record, surpassing the 28 of 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes.
This year, the onset of the peak of the hurricane season – August through November – resulted in a series of named storms that quickly followed each other, bringing storms, floods and destructive winds to parts of the United States. and the Caribbean.
Tropical Storm Odette formed on September 17, followed a few days later by Peter and Rose. All three storms have since dissipated.
Tropical Storm Mindy hit the Florida Panhandle on September 8, just hours after it formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and as a powerful Hurricane Larry was simultaneously unleashing in the Atlantic.
Ida struck Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on August 29 before her remains caused fatal flooding in the New York City area.
The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming increasingly evident. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of more powerful storms, although the total number of storms may drop, as factors such as wind shear stronger could prevent the formation of weaker storms.
Hurricanes also get wetter due to increased water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced much more rain than they would have had without the human effects on the climate. In addition, rising sea levels contribute to increased storm surges, the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.
Ana became the first named storm of the 2021 season on May 23, making it the seventh consecutive year that a named storm has developed in the Atlantic before the season officially begins on June 1.
In May, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, of which six to 10 would be hurricanes, including three to five major Category 3 or more hurricanes in the Atlantic. .
NOAA updated its forecast in early August, forecasting 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on November 30. Sam is the 18th named storm to form this year.
Johnny diaz Vimal Patel and Daniel Victor contributed reports.