The Caribbean is watching Tropical Storm Sandy after it strengthened Monday with winds topping at 40 mph as Jamaica braces for the storm to hit as a hurricane.

Jamaica and Haiti are under a tropical storm watch as Tropical Storm Sandy churns in the Caribbean about 395 miles south-southwest of Kingston, according to the latest bulletin from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

As explained by the NHC, a tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours in the affected areas.

It’s not just Jamaica and Haiti that should have their eyes on Tropical Storm Sandy, according to the NHC.

“Interests in eastern Cuba and the Bahamas should monitor the progress of Sandy,” the hurricane center cautioned in the 5 p.m. update on Tropical Storm Sandy.

Sandy’s center was here as of that time, with the tropical storm “nearly stationary,” according to the NHC.

In the next couple of days, Sandy is expected to take a turn to the north and north-northeast, putting the center near or over Jamaica by Wednesday, the hurricane center said.

An Air Force hurricane hunter plane determined Sandy’s maximum sustained winds to be topping 40 m.p.h. The NHC warned that Sandy may strengthen into a hurricane by the time it approaches  Jamaica.

Tropical storm force winds can go as high as 70 m.p.h., according to the NHC.

Jamaica may experience tropical storm conditions by Tuesday night, with Haiti feeling the force of Sandy by early Wednesday, the hurricane center said.

The tropical storm is expected to hammer Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba with up to 16 inches of rain, especially in mountainous areas, the NHC said, although five to 10 inches is more likely.

“These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the NHC warned.

The hurricane center is expected to issue an intermediate advisory on Tropical Storm Sandy at 8 p.m. EDT, with a more complete advisory to be released at 11 p.m. EDT. You can find those advisories here.