Hurricane Sam, small but mighty, swirls offshore in Atlantic

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MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Sam was a powerful Category 3 storm in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday but was centered well offshore and posed no threats to land, though it could generate dangerous rip currents.

Sam is located about 700 miles (1,127 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands and is traveling northwest at 9 mph (14 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a late-afternoon advisory.

Its maximum sustained winds dropped to 120 mph (193 kph) Monday afternoon, making it a Category 3 hurricane. Forecasters said there would be little change in its strength over the next day or so, followed by a slow weakening. Sam is expected to remain a major hurricane through midweek.

The Miami-based hurricane center said Sam was a small tropical cyclone, with hurricane-force winds extending outward just 30 miles (48 kilometers) from its center.

No coastal watches or warnings were in effect. But swells from Hurricane Sam could cause dangerous rip current conditions off the coast of the Lesser Antilles early this week, forecasters said.