Tropical Storm Sam, the 18th named storm of the season, formed Thursday in the Atlantic Basin, is forecasted to become a major hurricane by the end of this weekend or early next week, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
NHC said Sam formed Thursday morning from Tropical Depression Eighteen and is about 1,745 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands and moving west at 16 mph.
"Intensification is expected through the rest of this week and into the weekend, and Sam is expected to become a hurricane late Friday or Friday night," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.
The storm is expected to take a west-northwest track across the central Atlantic over the weekend, Accuweather said. It's still uncertain whether it makes landfall, but NHC has urged caution for the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the US East Coast.
"Sam could approach the northern Leeward Islands by Tuesday of next week as a major hurricane," Miller said, indicating this would mean the storm would have maximum sustained winds of more than 100 mph.
Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach tweeted that this hurricane season has had 18 named storms, and there was only one other time that this happened by Sept. 23, which was last year.
Tropical Storm #Sam has formed in the eastern tropical Atlantic - the 18th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic #hurricane season to date. Only 1 season on record has had 18+ Atlantic named storms by 23 September: 2020. 2020 had 23 named storms by 23 September. pic.twitter.com/AGFg37ljxw— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) September 23, 2021
On Sept. 10, Klotzbach called the "climatological peak of the Atlantic hurricane season," indicating the number of named storms is well above average.
It's still too early to tell Sam's exact trajectory, but a better understanding of its path will be established in the coming days.