Hurricane Sam intensified Friday, achieving major storm status as the Atlantic Ocean’s seventh hurricane this season. Forecasters said it would strengthen quickly.
The storm is intensifying thanks to wind speed and 84-degree water, the National Hurricane Center said. Winds reached 75 mph Friday but could top 130 mph in the next 48 hours, classifying it as a Category 4. The center said the storm would sustain that strength and wind speed into early next week.
Meteorologists cautioned that although the storm is growing exponentially, they cannot yet predict if it will eventually touch down on land. However, scientists do expect the storm to slow down this weekend.
The storm was still more than 1,000 miles away from the Caribbean Leeward Islands.
Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said they’re also watching a low-pressure system above Bermuda that more than likely could develop into a tropical storm over the weekend. If so, the storm will follow Sam and be named Teresa.
“The long-term (1991-2020) average date for the 7th Atlantic hurricane formation is 16 November,” tweeted Philip Klotzbach, an Atlantic basin meteorological specialist at Colorado State University.
Scientists blame the planet’s overall warming temperature for the increase in extreme storms.
“It’s very simple physics: As the atmosphere warms, it can hold more moisture — and that means more fuel” for storm events, Syracuse University environmental science professor Tripti Bhattacharya told NPR.