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Hurricane Sam to intensify on way to Caribbean

Likely becoming a major hurricane this weekend

(Photo: NOAA)

Hurricane Sam, the 18th named cyclone of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, will make big waves in Atlantic shipping lanes this weekend.

Related: How and why do hurricanes get their names?

Sam was a tropical depression for a couple of days prior to becoming a tropical storm early Thursday morning. Less than 24 hours later, Sam had exploded into a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained winds of 75 mph as of early Friday morning.

At that time, Sam was centered over the tropical Atlantic about 1,470 miles southeast of the northern Leeward Islands.

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Sam to rapidly intensify into a major hurricane — Category 3 or higher — by Saturday afternoon. The latest outlook has Sam tracking into the Caribbean next week, but staying far enough to the north to avoid landfall.

For now, Sam is only a threat to container ship crews who will have to steer clear. However, there’s enough uncertainty in the hurricane’s future path to keep attention focused on it for the next week. A slight shift to the south could have it crashing into several Caribbean islands, including U.S. territories like the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events. Hurricane Sam, Sep. 24, 8 a.m. ET. To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

Compared to an average season through Sept. 23, this season has produced an above-average number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes, with 18, seven and three, respectively. The averages over the past 30 years are 10, five and two.

In addition, the average date for the seventh Atlantic hurricane formation is Nov. 16 (the season officially ends Nov. 30), according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University who specializes in tropical weather. So, Sam is way ahead of schedule.

This is a developing situation, so look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.

Other weekend weather

Heavy rain will continue to drench the Northeast, especially the New England states. Widespread flooding isn’t likely, but areas of localized flash flooding are possible. The system producing the rain is moving slowly to the northeast and may not clear northern Maine until sometime Sunday. The National Weather Service has flash flood watches posted for western parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, where another few inches of rain could accumulate.

Lanes of concern

• Interstate 90 from Springfield to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
• Interstate 91 from Hartford, Connecticut, to Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.