MIAMI – Beachgoers along the east coast of the United States should beware of life-threatening surf and rip currents this weekend as Hurricane Sam turns northward, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.
Forecasters expect the Category 4 hurricane to remain at sea, but with top winds of 130 mph (215 kph), it's already sending dangerous ocean swells to islands hundreds of miles (kilometers) away.
“Right now we're not forecasting it to make landfall over any coastal locations, but it's certainly a big hazard for ships at sea, and again those swells are impacting a large area of the western Atlantic,” National Hurricane Center senior specialist Richard Pasch said.
Sam was located about 385 miles (620 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands, traveling northwest at 9 mph (14 kph), the Miami-based hurricane center said Wednesday evening. Hurricane-force winds were extending outward 40 miles (65 kilometers) from its center, with top winds expected to grow to 140 mph (225 kph) in the coming days. The storm is expected to turn to the north by Friday.
Forecasters said large swells are affecting the Leeward Islands and will spread to portions of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas, and Bermuda by Thursday or Friday as the storm curves northward. Rough surf is expected along U.S. east coast beaches and Canada's Atlantic provinces by the weekend.
Another system, Tropical Storm Victor, has also formed over the eastern tropical Atlantic about 540 miles (870 kilometers) south of the Cabo Verde Islands.
The storm carries maximum winds of about 40 mph (65 kph) and is traveling northwest at 13 mph (20kph), officials said. Forecasters expect Victor to strengthen over the next several days to become a hurricane by Friday. There are no coastal warnings or watches in effect for either storm.
Victor is the 20th named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season. 2020 is the only other year in which 20 named storms had formed by Sept. 29, according to a tweet from Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.