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Hurricane Sam ramps up to 140 mph winds; forecasters track 3 other systems

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 9/29/2021 Joe Mario Pedersen, Orlando Sentinel
Hurricane Sam's cone of uncertainty 5 a.m. Tuesday 09/28/21 © Orlando Sentinel Hurricane Sam's cone of uncertainty 5 a.m. Tuesday 09/28/21

Hurricane Sam remains a category 4 storm, but a passing hurricane hunter aircraft observed Sam’s intensity fluctuating. Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center is monitoring three other disturbances — one with 90% odds of becoming the next tropical depression.

First, Sam has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph and is crawling northwest at 9 mph, according to the NHC’s 5 a.m. update.

Sam’s hurricane-force winds have a small reach of 40 miles from its core, but its tropical-storm-force winds extend 125 miles. The seventh hurricane of the year is 455 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands.

A Florida impact is looking unlikely, according to U.S. and European computer models, though swells could spread to the eastern U.S. coast by the end of the week.

A weather satellite captured Hurricane Sam swirling with maximum winds of 150 mph Monday afternoon.

However, that didn’t last long, and meteorologists think Sam’s power is fluctuating, but Atlantic conditions should allow the storm to maintain major hurricane strength late into the week.

To the northwest of Sam, an elongated area of low pressure, previously known as Peter’s remnants, is located several hundred miles east-northeast of Bermuda. The disturbance’s odds of reforming diminished to a 10% chance in the next two to five days, the NHC said. The window of opportunity is closing on the disturbance to become a depression, according to the NHC’s environmental data.

Farther east, a broad area of low pressure associated with disorganized showers south of the Cabo Verde Islands is moving into a favorable Atlantic environment for development, according to the NHC’s 2 a.m. update. The wave is forecast to move west between 10 to 15 mph. It has a 90% chance of developing into a tropical depression over the next two to five days but could happen as early as today, the NHC said.

Also, disorganized showers and thunderstorms are associated with a broad area of low pressure located several hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. A tropical depression is possible in the next couple of days while the system moves westward to west-northwestward at 5 to 10 mph over the central tropical Atlantic. This system has a 50% chance of developing in the next two to five days.

So far, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season with 19 named systems is the third most active behind 2020′s record year and 2005.

The next name on the list is Victor, with only Wanda left before the NHC will begin using a new set of alphabetical names chosen for busy hurricane seasons. Only 2005 and 2020 had to venture beyond the initial list, but the storm names were given Greek letters such as Tropical Storm Alpha in previous years. Confusion in similar-sounding Greek letters, such as Eta and Theta, though, led to the shift.

If 2021 reaches the new alphabet, the first named storm will be Adria.

The hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

Staffers David Harris and Lisa Maria Garza contributed to this report.

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