National Hurricane Center
A brewing storm in the Atlantic is now a “major hurricane,” but forecasters say it currently poses little threat to land.
The National Hurricane Center said on Saturday Sam was bringing wind speeds above 110 miles per hour, the threshold for a storm to qualify as a major hurricane.
This is the fourth storm to receive such a designation this year, according to Andy Latto, hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.
With wind speeds over 120 miles per hour, Sam was a Category 3 hurricane and was set to become a Category 4 (wind speed between 130 and 156 miles per hour) on Sunday.
As of late Saturday morning, Hurricane Sam was located about 1,000 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands and about 630 miles northeast of the coast of Guyana French, moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour.
No coastal warnings or watches are in effect – and although Hurricane Sam is currently producing strong winds, it is unlikely to make landfall in the Caribbean or the Americas.
“There is an ascending trough – a cold front – that is already crossing the southeastern United States,” Latto told NPR. “The associated trough that helps drive this front will help turn this system north later, sometimes early and middle of next week.”
Latto said there was a slight chance the hurricane would hit Bermuda, but modeling currently shows it is likely to miss the island.
He also noted that this is the time of year when forecasters are starting to shift their focus from the eastern Atlantic basin near Africa to the western part of the ocean.
“Even though something like Sam probably won’t reach the United States, stay alert and watch things, because there’s always a secondary peak that comes from the western part of the basin later,” Latto said.