Hurricane Sam strengthened once again to a Category 4 storm as it lumbered through the Atlantic Ocean, still far from South Carolina's shores.
The National Hurricane Center reported in its 5 p.m. public advisory Sam's wind speeds were recorded near 130 mph.
Sam was moving at a leisurely 9 mph on a northwest track through the Atlantic. As of 5 p.m., the hurricane was 530 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, northeast of the Venezuelan coast.
There were no watches or warnings in effect, though swells generated by Sam were expected to reach the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Lesser Antilles over the next several days before reaching the East Coast.
These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, the center advised.
Hurricane Sam is a major hurricane, but it is forecast to pass well to the east of South Carolina’s coastline, said Neil Dixon, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Charleston office.
Swells generated by the storm were expected to reach Charleston’s coast Oct. 1 and into the weekend. These long-period swells are notorious for causing rip currents, Dixon said.
Anyone planning a beach trip this weekend should keep up with local advisories, he said. Dixon anticipated the Weather Service would issue a small craft advisory around the same time, as offshore boaters could see waves above 6 feet.
Sam is the seventh hurricane to form in the 2021 Atlantic season, which ends Nov. 30. The storm was designated a hurricane Sept. 24 and rapidly intensified before reaching major hurricane status the next day.
The storm has wavered between Category 3 and Category 4 wind speeds throughout the past 24 hours.
Sam may intensify over the next day or two, according to the center, and the storm is likely to remain a major hurricane for the next four days.
Its northwest motion was expected to continue for the next few days as the storm passes east of the northern Leeward Islands on Sept. 29 and Bermuda by Oct. 1.