A hurricane warning has been issued for Jamaica as Tropical Storm Sandy churns in the Caribbean and moves closer to the island nation.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sandy was here, or about 275 miles south-southwest of Kingston, Jamaica. A tropical storm warning was issued for Haiti, meaning Sandy is expected to punish the country with tropical storm conditions sometime within the next 24 to 36 hours, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Tropical Storm Sandy is expected to pick up strength for the next two days as it heads for Jamaica, with forecasters predicting the storm will become a hurricane tomorrow.

In Jamaica, “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the NHC warned.

By Wednesday night, Sandy is expected to hit Cuba, where a hurricane watch is in effect for Camaguey, Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Guantanamo, according to the hurricane center.

Sandy is expected to remain a Tropical Storm when she reaches the central and southeastern Bahamas, which is under a tropical storm watch.

Sandy’s maximum sustained winds were topping out at 50 m.p.h., with the gusts extending 90 miles from the storm’s center.

The tropical storm is expected to pound Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba with 6 to 12 inches of rain, with 20 inches possible in mountainous areas, according to the NHC.

“These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides,” the hurricane center cautioned.

Storm surges from Sandy may raise water levels up to three feet above normal tide levels along the southern and eastern coast of Jamaica.

“Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves,” the NHC said.

The hurricane center said it would update the status of Tropical Storm Sandy at 5 p.m. EDT, which you can find here.