Since 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 25, while churning over the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean, Mighty Sam has maintained significant hurricane power, which is a storm of Category 3 or more.
As it passes a few hundred miles east of Bermuda, Weather meteorologists predict Sam will remain a powerful major storm throughout the weekend. And in doing so, it has a chance to crack the top five list of the basin's long-duration significant storms.
As of Friday AM, Hurricane Sam was still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, just seven mph shy of Category 5. Sam was churning over the Atlantic Ocean approximately 505 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, heading north-northwest at 16 miles per hour.
The tiny but powerful storm is expected to track east of Bermuda in the same direction as Larry did just a few weeks ago.
The Bermuda Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for Bermuda as a precaution due to Sam's approach, but meteorologists anticipate that substantial impacts on the islands will be restricted to high waves and surf.
On Sept. 9, Larry passed about 170 miles east of the islands, with tropical storm-force winds extending up to 220 miles away from its core and hurricane-force winds reaching 90 miles outward. As Larry passed east of the islands, it brought rain and almost tropical storm-force wind gusts to Bermuda.
In comparison to Larry, Sam is considerably smaller. On Friday morning, hurricane-force winds reached 60 miles outward from the center, with tropical storm-force winds stretching out to 175 miles.
"As it approaches approximately 225 miles east of Bermuda early this weekend, Sam is expected to remain a major hurricane," said Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty.
Sam Sustaining Winds
Sam has a probability of keeping maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or higher into the weekend, which is the minimum criteria for a major Category 3 hurricane. Sam maintains its current strength through Sunday AM. It would surpass Edouard from 1996 as the sixth longest-lasting major hurricane in Atlantic history. Edouard was a major storm for 186 hours and 33 minutes or seven and a half days. Sam had been a major storm for 120 hours, or five days, as of Thursday lunchtime.
According to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, numerous well-known hurricanes are on the same top-five list. For example, Isabel lasted 192 hours (eight days) in 2003, Irma lasted 210 hours (eight and three-quarter days) in 2017, while Ivan lasted 240 hours in 2004. (10 days). Fabian, a direct hit on Bermuda in 2003, is number seven on the list, clocking in at 174 hours or seven and a quarter days.
Sam's surges will extend outward, although it is considerably smaller than Larry was when it sailed the middle Atlantic. As a result, waves and rip currents are expected to intensify throughout the east coast of the United States this weekend. This weekend, waves and rip currents from northeastern Florida to New England may severely endanger bathers.
Due to Sam's projected course and the storm is expected to expand in magnitude, the highest seas will typically remain east of Bermuda through this weekend but will build north of Bermuda over the weekend and into early next week.
At the same time, as Sam moves northeast of Bermuda, the storm will gradually come into contact with colder seas and diminish.
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