Hurricane Sam strengthens as it moves toward Bermuda

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Oct. 1 (UPI) — Forecasters warned early Friday that Hurricane Sam was continuing to strengthen as it slowly moved toward Bermuda.

In its 5 a.m. AST update, the National Hurricane Center said the Category 4 storm was located 435 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. It had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, an increase of 5 mph from Thursday night, and was moving north-northwest at 17 mph.

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A tropical storm warning has been issued for Bermuda.

Sam formed as a tropical storm last week. At one point, it appeared that the storm could possibly take a track to the U.S. Southeast, but projections show it turning in a northerly direction, away from the East Coast.

The forecasters said the major hurricane is expected to turn toward the north on Friday while picking up speed.

“On the forecast track, the core of Sam will pass to the east of Bermuda early Saturday,” the NHC said.

In addition to affected Bermuda, the storm was expected to generate strong swells in the northern Leeward Islands, Greater Antilles and Puerto Rico in the next few days. Bermuda and the Bahamas could see swells Friday and the U.S. East Coast by the weekend.

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Sam is expected to be a major hurricane until Saturday with additional weakening forecast for later in the weekend, the NHC said.

Sam is the 18th named storm and the seventh hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. A year ago, the “s” named storm, Sally, formed on Sept. 12.