The latest Hurricane Hunter mission into Sam has shown that the peak sustained wind speeds have dropped to 145 mph, and the belief is that further strengthening is becoming less likely. However, Sam is expected to remain a major hurricane for the next several days. Here is the latest from the National Hurricane Center:
SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST…0300 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 850 MI…1365 KM ESE OF THE NORTHERN LEEWARD ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…145 MPH…230 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NW OR 315 DEGREES AT 7 MPH…11 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…943 MB…27.85 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK
At 1100 PM AST (0300 UTC), the center of Hurricane Sam was located by a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft near latitude 14.7 North, longitude 50.8 West. Sam is moving toward the northwest near 7 mph (11 km/h), and this motion is expected to continue for the next few days, along with a gradual increase in forward speed beginning around midweek.
Data from the reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph (230 km/h) with higher gusts. Sam is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are expected during the next day or so. Thereafter, slow weakening is forecast. However, Sam is still expected to remain a major hurricane through midweek.
Sam remains a small tropical cyclone. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles (150 km). The estimated minimum central pressure based on recent reports from the aircraft is 943 mb (27.85 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
SURF: Swells generated by Sam are forecast to reach the Lesser Antilles early this week. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
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