Hurricane Sandy has touched down in Jamaica and is expected to reach Cuba overnight and the Bahamas by Friday, according to the latest update from the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
As of 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the center of Hurricane Sandy was 25 miles north-northeast of Kingston, Jamaica and 125 miles south-southwest of Guantanamo, Cuba, according to the hurricane center. The storm was moving north at 14 m.p.h., with maximum winds topping 80 mph.
The movement of Hurricane Sandy led the National Hurricane Center to issue a tropical storm warning for the east coast of Florida, stretching from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast up to Flagler Beach, which is 20 miles north of Daytona Beach.
The tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 24 to 36 hours, while a tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible within the affected area.
More serious hurricane warnings are in effect for Jamaica, the central and northwestern Bahamas and the eastern Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Guantanamo.
Haiti is also under a tropical storm warning.
Hurricane Sandy is expected to keep moving north through Thursday night, with an increase in forward speed expected Wednesday night and Thursday, according to the NHC. The storm is then projected to move to the north-northwest with a decrease in forward speed by Friday.
The forecast track puts Hurricane Sandy over part of eastern Cuba overnight, followed by the central Bahamas Thursday and Friday night. The storm is expected to be near or over the northwestern portion of the Bahamas on Friday.
Sandy is projected to weaken as it moves over eastern Cuba but regain strength as it moves over water into the Bahamas, according to the NHC.
Hurricane-force winds from Sandy are extended up to 30 miles from the eye of the Category 1 hurricane, with tropical storm force winds extending up to 140 miles from the center.
Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, reported sustained winds of 40 mph from Sandy, according to the hurricane center.
Sandy is expected to produce six to 12 inches of rain across Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba, with up to 20 inches possible.
“These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the NHC cautioned.
Between one and three inches of rain is expected across the Florida Keys and southeast and east central Florida, the hurricane center said.
Portions of the Florida coast affected by the tropical storm warnings may see one to two inches of storm surge.
The next update on Hurricane Sandy is expected to be released at 8 p.m. EDT, with a further update at 11 p.m. EDT. You can find those updates here.