Hurricane Sam Path, Tracker As East Coast Residents Warned About Strengthening Storm

People living on the East Coast have been warned to keep a close eye on the path of Hurricane Sam, as forecasters say models that show it will likely miss the U.S. could change in the coming days.

The season's 18th named storm has intensified quickly over open Atlantic Ocean waters, moving from a tropical depression to the seventh hurricane of 2021 within 24 hours.

At 5 a.m. ET on Friday, Sam was located around 1,470 miles east-southeast of the Leeward Islands and 2,673 miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida.

A National Hurricane Center advisory issued at 11 a.m. on Friday said Sam was moving west at 15mph and maximum sustained winds had reached close to 75mph. As of Friday morning, there were no hazards affecting land.

Hurricane Sam
A graphic of Hurricane Sam from the National Hurricane Center shows its position in the Caribbean. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

The strengthening system follows a west to west-northwest path across the central Atlantic but AccuWeather forecasters said it was not certain where it might go. Bermuda, the Bahamas, the U.S. East Coast and Atlantic Canada could all be in the firing line.

Sam could approach the northern Leeward Islands by Tuesday as a major hurricane, defined as one with sustained winds of at least 111mph, according to AccuWeather. Rob Miller, senior meteorologist at the forecaster, said: "Intensification is expected into the weekend."

Accuweather also said Sam was likely to create rough conditions along the eastern shores of the Leeward and Windward islands and would cause rough seas for ships in the open Atlantic, even far from the storm's center.

However, most computer model forecasts predict that Sam will curl away from the U.S. East Coast later next week or next weekend, according to Weather.com.

This is down to a weaker Bermuda high over the Atlantic, coupled with a stronger trough (or southward plunge of the jet stream) near the East Coast.

That would force Sam to head north, then northeastward into the Atlantic Ocean, but the Weather Channel said it was too early to rule out Sam as a threat to the U.S. because the long-term steering forecast could change.

AccuWeather meteorologist Randy Adkins said that what happens with Sam over the next two to three days would determine whether or not it will threaten the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.

"The faster that Sam strengthens over the next few days, the further north it is likely to track," Adkins said.

Only one previous hurricane season, 2020, had 18 named storms by September 23, USA Today reported. There have been three major hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger this year—Grace, Ida and Larry.