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Sam swings in strength, forecasters monitor possible threat to Canada

Monday, September 27th 2021, 9:09 pm - The Canadian Hurricane Centre is keeping tabs on Sam for any possible impacts to Canada late this weekend and into early next week.

Hurricane Sam is beginning to regroup after a brief period of weakening, with further intensification expected shortly. It is still a major hurricane, currently a Category 3 storm. It is expected to stay well north of the Leeward Islands, and Bermuda will miss any hurricane conditions, but the latter may see tropical storm-force winds and heavy rains late week. Meanwhile, the Canadian Hurricane Centre is closely monitoring its track for potential impacts on the East Coast over the next week.

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As of the Monday evening update, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the hurricane was 1,125 km east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving northwest near 15 km/h. On the forecast track, Sam will pass well to the northeast of the northern Leeward Islands Wednesday and Thursday.

Sam has weakened but remains a major hurricane with a Category 3 status. It currently has maximum sustained winds near 195 km/h and even higher gusts.

Sam track

"Some strengthening is expected through tonight. Thereafter, fluctuations in intensity are possible through Thursday," the NHC says.

Swells generated by Sam will impact the Lesser Antilles for the next several days. Swells are expected to reach Bermuda and the Bahamas mid-to-late week, and then spread to the U.S. East Coast late week. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

At this point, it looks like Bermuda will be spared from hurricane conditions as Sam is expected to track well to the east of the island. However, heavy rain and tropical storm-force winds are still expected across Bermuda on Friday night and into Saturday.

Forecasters are also keeping a close eye on Sam for potential Canadian impacts, though it is much too early to know whether Atlantic Canada will be threatened by the hurricane. Still, with the damage recently caused by Hurricane Larry, the region remains on edge to possibly be in line for more tropical trouble.

Canadian Hurricane Centre/Sam track (Canadian Hurricane Centre)

"The most likely scenario is that Sam will recurve and stay out to sea and not be a major threat to Atlantic Canada. However, this is still nearly a week away and it is possible that Sam will track farther to the north and west and have a significant impact on southern and eastern parts of the region, with the highest risk being southeastern Newfoundland Sunday or Monday of next week," says Dr. Doug Gillham, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

In addition to Sam, forecasters are closely watching two more systems – one in the east-central Atlantic and another that is just coming off the coast of Africa. Both systems are expected to become tropical storms later this week and would be named Victor and Wanda, respectively.

"These storms will take a more southerly track across the Atlantic and will have to be closely watched over the next 10-14 days," Gillham adds.

Sam is the seventh hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season. Hurricane season traditionally runs from June 1st to Nov. 30, with substantial flexibility on either side of that range.

Be sure to check back for the latest updates on the Atlantic hurricane season.

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