Tropical Storm Sandy reached hurricane strength Wednesday as it edged closer to the southern coast of Jamaica while forecasters said there’s a chance Sandy will eventually hug the East Coast and possibly even make landfall in the Northeast.
The 11 am update by the National Hurricane Center pinpoint Sandy centered about 120 miles south of Kingston, the Jamaican capital.
The NHC further noted that, as of Wednesday morning, the storm was moving north at 14 miles per hour with top sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.
Sandy, the 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was on a projected path that would cut across the middle of Jamaica near the capital, Kingston, and the popular north coast resort of Ocho Rios before passing over eastern Cuba Thursday and losing hurricane strength as it reaches the Bahamas.
In response, the Cuban government has already issued a hurricane watch, covering a number of areas including Camaguey, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Holguin in advance of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. Storm warnings are also already in effect in Haiti and the Bahamas.
According to the Miami Herald, some of Sandy’s outer squalls have already landed in Jamaica, and experts are forecasting six or seven-foot high waves and at least 10 inches of rainfall from the category 1 storm.
“These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides … especially in areas of mountainous terrain,” the NHC warned.
Out in the deep Atlantic, Tropical Storm Tony formed overnight but posed no threat to land as it moved northeast.
MSNBC has more on Hurricane Sandy’s projected path in the video below: