The tropical storm is churning in the open Atlantic Ocean more than 1,600 miles east of the Leeward Islands. While it is still far away from land, impacts are possible early next week. More importantly, the storm is expected to quickly strengthen into a hurricane as it approaches the Caribbean Basin.
The official forecast shows the system becoming a hurricane on Friday and a major hurricane — Category 3 or higher — as early as Saturday.
“It is noteworthy that this is the 2nd earliest formation of the 18th named storm in the Atlantic basin, moving ahead of the 2005 hurricane season, and only trailing last year,” says the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Thursday’s developments were an indication that this is a very busy hurricane season and that it is far from over.
Sam will be a major hurricane but the long-term path is still uncertain
The NHC cautions that the size and intensity of Sam could play a role in its ultimate track evolution.
“What is not clear at this point is what impacts it will have on land,” said CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. “Right now, it looks like it may pass north of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico early next week, but that could change.”
“Reliable long-range computer models show that the system could eventually have direct impacts on land,” says Hennen. “Places like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda and even the East Coast of the US need to watch the storm closely over the next week. The models don’t currently agree where the storm is headed, but do agree that its likely to be a powerful hurricane.”