European weather: South to stay warm while North will be wetter
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Hurricane season has not come to an end in the Atlantic Ocean this year. Tropical conditions have left the water teeming with systems, 19 in total this year. The latest, a category 4 hurricane named Sam, is travelling westward, and forecasters expect people living in the Americas will feel it soon.
The system is currently off the east coast of the eastern Caribbean, where it is within a range of tourist hotspots.
Although it hasn’t made landfall and likely won’t it can still generate risks.
Forecasters with the National Hurricane Centre (NHC), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have released a “swell” warning.
The latest advisory, released at 3pm this evening, states storm swells could cause “life-threatening” surf and rip currents.
They will likely reach the Lesser Antilles – an island chain that includes Grenada, Trinidad, Martinique, Saint Kitts and more – “during the next several days”.
The storm will then churn the ocean around the Virgin Islands, Peurto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Bermuda.
NHC mapping suggests it will reach these locations by Thursday or Friday.
Forecasters expect Sam to keep its current strength until then and beyond.
Anyone affected by the storm swells and rip current conditions should take advice from local officials or lifeguards over the weekend.
Swells and rip currents are equally dangerous but for different reasons.
Storm swells manifest when extreme wind blows on the ocean, causing a ripple effect that creates significant crest-less waves.
These can tip over boats and endanger people in shallow water.
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Rip currents can quickly kill beachgoers they catch.
They present as one of the most dangerous surf-zone hazards and can pull people far out to sea.
Even strong swimmers caught in the grasp of a rip can struggle to return, as they get quickly worn out and often drown.
Hurricane Sam will likely cause conditions like these for some time, thanks to its size.
Current public advice states the hurricane’s sustained winds will keep it a category 4 until “late this week.”
Hurricane-level winds stretch out 40 miles from the centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 125 miles.
Sam likely won’t make landfall, however, according to NHC charts.
They currently show the storm will curve to the northeast towards the end of the week, going away from the US east coast.
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