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TROPICS: Hurricane Sam is intensifying over the open Atlantic; forecast to recurve next week

Sam should pass well east of us next week, but it's not one to write off just yet as it strengthens and heads west across the Atlantic Ocean.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There are no concerns to the First Coast in the next 5 days, but we will continue to monitor Sam as it heads west across the central, tropical Atlantic. It is noteworthy that Sam is the 2nd earliest formation of the 18th named storm in the Atlantic basin, moving ahead of the 2005 hurricane season, and only trailing last year. 

Early indications suggest the storm should take a turn well to the east of the Bahamas and head north, but it's not one to write off just yet. The EURO and GFS models still have a 500+ mile difference in the position of this system 7 to 10 days out.

 Sam is forecast to become the next major hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season.

Another hot spot to watch as we turn the calendar to October is the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico where water temperatures are still very warm. Cyclones that do form in the Caribbean or Gulf usually move north and then northeastward as storms get carried away by an eastward-moving trough. Depending on the exact circumstances, this setup can often bring storms close to the Florida peninsula.

Credit: WTLV
Hurricane Sam - 5 a.m. advisory
Credit: WTLV
EURO vs GFS
Credit: WTLV
Tropical Outlook

We look toward the Main Development Region and Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone across the tropical Atlantic Ocean during this time of year as tropical waves move west over the basin. However, tropical cyclones can also often originate deep in the Caribbean Sea and across the Gulf of Mexico in September, and more so in October.

Credit: WTLV
Areas of origin for tropical systems in the month of September.
Credit: WTLV
Areas of origin for tropical systems in October

Interactive tropical radar:

SEASONAL OUTLOOK: NOAA's outlook calls for 15-21 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, and 3-5 major hurricanes in total.

“After a record-setting start, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season does not show any signs of relenting as it enters the peak months ahead,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. “NOAA will continue to provide the science and services that are foundational to keeping communities prepared for any threatening storm.”

Credit: WTLV
2021 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Names

Looking deeper into the season, the Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Niña Watch with La Niña potentially emerging through November. La Niña can help make atmospheric conditions more conducive for tropical cyclones to form the Atlantic, and less conducive in the Eastern Pacific. If 2021 is any indicator so far of what lies ahead this season, it could continue to be an active year.

Hurricane season is here and it's time to be prepared if you aren't already. Make sure you have had conversations with your loved ones about what you would do if a storm were to threaten.

This year, NOAA released the new seasonal averages for the Atlantic basin. According to the 30-year data from 1991 to 2020, the new averages include 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The averages from 1951-1980 , were 11 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 1 major.

Credit: WTLV
Sep 10 is the historical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

RELATED: Spaghetti Plots: guidance, not a forecast!

Hurricane safety and preparedness are critically important even before the season begins on June 1. NOAA’s National Weather Service provides resources to prepare for hurricane hazards and real-time updates about active weather systems from the National Hurricane Center at www.hurricanes.gov

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30.

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