Tropical Storm Sam is expected to become a major hurricane by the weekend

Tropical Storm Sam was expected to become a “major hurricane” by this weekend after forming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, the fourth named storm to develop in less than a week and the 18th overall in a busy 2021 hurricane season.

From 11 p.m. Eastern time, the storm was about 1,600 miles east of the eastern Caribbean, moving west at 15 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Sam was a “small” storm that “was escalating rapidly” and was expected to become a hurricane “very soon,” the center said. No coastal watch or warning was in effect.

It has been a dizzying few months for meteorologists, as the onset of the peak hurricane season – August through November – resulted in a series of named storms that quickly followed each other, bringing thunderstorms, floods and storms. destructive winds in parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Odette formed on Friday, followed a few days later by Peter and Rose. All three storms have since dissipated.

Tropical Storm Mindy hit the Florida Panhandle on September 8, just hours after it formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and as a powerful Hurricane Larry was simultaneously raging in the Atlantic.

Ida struck Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on August 29 before her remains caused fatal flooding in the New York City area. Two other tropical storms, Julian and Kate, both died out in one day at the same time.

Shortly before them, in mid-August, Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida panhandle and Hurricane Grace struck Haiti and Mexico. Tropical Storm Henri cut power and brought record precipitation to the northeastern United States on August 22.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming increasingly evident. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time and a higher incidence of more powerful storms, although the total number of storms may decline, as factors such as wind shear stronger could prevent the formation of weaker storms.

Hurricanes also get wetter due to increased water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested that storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced much more rain than they would have had without the human effects on the climate. In addition, rising sea levels contribute to increased storm surges, the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making it the seventh consecutive year that a named storm has developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

In May, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, of which six to 10 would be hurricanes, including three to five major Category 3 or more hurricanes in the Atlantic. .

NOAA updated its forecast in early August, forecasting 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on November 30. Sam is the 18th named storm to form this year.

Last year there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and use the Greek letters.

These are the most named storms on record, surpassing the 28 of 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes.

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