Sam has become the 18th named storm of the 2021 Atlantic season, the National Hurricane Center decreed Thursday, and it could become the fourth “major” hurricane, with top winds of 111 mph or better, before the weekend is over.
In only one other season has the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, by this date spawned 18 storms worthy of a name, with winds of at least 39 mph. That happened to be 2020, which set a record for tropical storm numbers with 30.
It would become the seventh hurricane of the season, the long-term average for the entire June 1-Nov. 30 period. The average for named storms is 12, and three for majors.
It was way too early to assess what impacts Sam might have on land, since it was still more than 1,700 miles from the eastern-most Caribbean islands. But it will be watched closely.
It is forecast to grow into a hurricane Friday night and become a “major” hurricane with top winds of 115 mph late Sunday morning.
Its peak winds at 11 a.m. Thursday were 50 mph, coincidentally, matching the strongest winds attained by its two unexceptional predecessors, Peter and Rose, names that no doubt would inspire recognition among baseball fans.
Peter became a tropical storm Sunday, and Rose, Monday. It was the first-ever joint appearance of the two names in the Atlantic.
Winds never topped 50 mph for either of them, and they rather quickly were downgraded to tropical depressions.
Neither made a hit on land because they were far out to sea, and it’s safe to say that neither will wind up in the hurricane hall of fame, at least this time around. Their next shot would be 2027, when their recycled names will reappear.