(Miami, FL) -- Tropical Storm Sam is now a hurricane. The 18th named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season could reach major hurricane status by mid-weekend. The storm system is east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands. It is still unclear at this point whether or not Sam will threaten land or the state of Florida.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph with higher gusts. Rapid intensification is forecast to continue, and Sam is likely to become a major hurricane tonight or early Saturday. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles.