Hurricane Sam is now a Category 4 storm and has the potential to get stronger. The National Hurricane Center declared Saturday in a public advisory. The “small but dangerous” hurricane is one of the earliest 18th named storms to form, beaten only by last season, which was the most active hurricane season on record.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to approximately 140 miles per hour with even higher gusts. The storm’s winds extend outward up to 25 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.
“Additional strengthening is expected through tonight,” the National Hurricane Center said Saturday afternoon. The National Hurricane Center stated Saturday afternoon that there are some fluctuations in hurricane intensity which may be possible starting next week. “
As of Saturday afternoon, Sam is moving west-northwest at nearly 10 miles per hour in the Atlantic ocean. Throughout the weekend, a slower west-northwest movement is expected. It is not yet clear if the storm will make landfall in the U.S.
Swells are expected to reach the Lesser Antilles group of islands in the Caribbean Sea by early next week, which could cause “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.” According to the hurricane center, residents should consult their local weather stations for information.
Sam strengthened into a Category 2 storm late Friday and is considered by the hurricane center to be a “small hurricane,” although it has already met the criteria for rapid intensification. It is the 16th storm to rapidly intensify over the past two seasons in the Atlantic.
Jeff Berardelli contributed reporting.
Tori B. Powell is a breaking news reporter at CBS News. Reach her at email@example.com