FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Hurricane Sam, the seventh hurricane of the 2021 season, intensified to wind speeds of 85 mph Friday afternoon and is expected to continue gaining strength in the coming days, the National Hurricane Center said.
Sam could become a major hurricane by early Saturday, which means winds of at least 111 mph.
If Sam reaches that threshold, it would become the fourth major hurricane of 2021. And that’s not likely to be the end of its growth.
Sam is forecast to peak as a Category 4 hurricane, which means at least 130 mph winds, by Sunday or Monday, the center said.
“The large-scale environmental conditions all appear favorable for continued rapid intensification during the next day or so,” forecasters said.
Sam underwent rapid intensification, defined as a wind increase of at least 35 mph in a 24-hour period, over the previous 24 hours as it grew from a tropical depression into a hurricane.
As of the 5 p.m. advisory, the system was about 1,290 miles east-southeast of the eastern Caribbean and moving west at 12 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend 15 miles from Sam’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extend 60 miles from its center.
Subtropical Storm Teresa, the 19th named storm of the season, formed 155 miles north of Bermuda. As of 5 p.m. Eastern time Friday, Teresa was moving northwest at 14 mph and is expected to turn north Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Teresa will not be around for long, though. The hurricane center said the system “will likely be the 9th so-called ‘shortie’ of the 2021 hurricane season — systems that are short-lived and relatively weak.” It is expected to dissipate within a few days.
It is still unclear whether Sam will affect Florida or any part of the United States. But forecasters said a fast-developing storm, which accurately describes Sam, raises the likelihood it will miss Florida.