ORLANDO, Fla. — Hurricane Sam finally devolved from a major hurricane Sunday after spending more than a week over Category 3 status. Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Victor continued to fall apart, but the National Hurricane Center began investigating a system closer to Florida.
Located over the southeastern Bahamas near southwestern Atlantic waters is a large area of disorganized cloudiness and showers associated with a surface trough that could form into the next tropical depression or storm, according to the 8 a.m. EDT update from the NHC.
“Upper-level winds are expected to be only marginally conducive, and any development of this system should be slow to occur while it moves west-northwestward at around 10 mph through Monday, followed by a slow northwestward motion through the end of the week,” said the NHC’s Daniel Brown.
The system has only a 10% chance of forming in the next two days, and 20% in the next five.
If it were to spin up into a system with 39 mph sustained winds or greater, it would become Tropical Storm Wanda, the last name of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season list before the NHC would move to a second alphabet.
Only 2005 and the record-breaking 2020 had to use more than 21 names in a single hurricane season.
Farther from home but still affecting Florida’s shores is Hurricane Sam, which after 7 3/4 days with winds of more than 115 mph finally died down overnight. The hurricane twice last week reached sustained wind speeds of 150 mph, making it tied with this season’s Hurricane Ida for the strongest storm.
The long-lasting major hurricane is tied for fourth for the most consecutive days since the satellite era began in 1966, according to hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
It had maintained Category 3 through the 11 p.m. NHC advisory Saturday, but dropped to 100 mph sustained winds, a Category 2 hurricane, as of Sunday morning.
“Further weakening is forecast during the next few days, and Sam is expected transition into a powerful post-tropical cyclone on Monday,” forecasters said.