Hurricane Sam: Storm Rapidly Expanding, Forecasted to Be Category 3 This Weekend

by Jennifer Shea

Hurricane Sam began as a tropical storm on Thursday morning. By Friday, it was a Category 1 hurricane.

This weekend, Hurricane Sam may accelerate into a Category 3 or even Category 4 hurricane, according to CBS News. It is currently forecast to stay far out to sea. But some models project a westward tilt toward the Caribbean.

If that happens, the U.S. mainland could face some threats.

Hurricane Sam Was Still a Low-Grade Hurricane as of Friday Afternoon

On Friday, Hurricane Sam was still a Category 1. But things could change quickly over the weekend. That’s when Sam, which has been moving west toward the Leeward Islands, is likely to take a northwesterly turn. That will keep the hurricane out over open water. But as it heads that way, Hurricane Sam will get stronger.

As the water temperatures in its path get warmer, Hurricane Sam’s structure will also get better organized. So it will take up heat energy from the Atlantic Ocean more efficiently. The hurricane has already intensified rapidly. It has gathered wind increases of 35 mph over the course of a day. And it may accelerate equally rapidly in the next 48 hours.

The Climate Service’s hurricane researcher Jim Kossin told CBS that he’s seen an above-average number of storms intensifying rapidly this year. And we’re only partway through hurricane season.

“The increase in rapid intensification events in the Atlantic is very likely due to the warmer than normal ocean temperatures,” Kossin said. “[Those] certainly have a human fingerprint on them. The latest research and the latest IPCC report says that rapid intensification events are increasing in frequency and intensity. And we have medium confidence that this increase can not be explained by natural variability alone.”

Meteorologists Say Sam Is a Storm to Watch

Hurricane Sam should move across the Atlantic and stay north of the Caribbean Islands. But meteorologists are calling it a storm to watch over the next week or two.

“It is still possible that Sam will take a more southerly track and be a threat to the southeastern U.S. in roughly 9-12 days,” Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham said recently. “Or the storm could take a turn far enough to the west that it would be a threat to Atlantic Canada in 10-14 days.”

Hurricane Sam is the 7th hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season. But it is the 16th storm to rapidly intensify over the course of the past two Atlantic seasons. And the 2020 and 2021 seasons have brought an unusually high number of storms.

Hurricane season typically lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, give or take.