Tropical Storm Sandy is lifting northward out of the southern Caribbean Sea and is on course for a direct fly over of the island of Jamaica, Wednesday. As of 2 pm ET (10/23), Sandy was located about 275 miles SSS of Kingston, Jamaica and was moving to the NNE (20 degrees) at 5 mph. Hurricane hunter observations indicated a minimum central pressure down to 993 mb (29.32") and a maximum sustained wind of 50 mph.
Forecast guidance indicates that Sandy will likely begin to lift northward a bit quicker over the next 24 hours allowing the center of the storm to cross the island of Jamaica during the afternoon hours,
Wednesday and around midnight Thursday, cross the southeastern coast of Cuba. In addition, forecast guidance indicates that Sand will continue to strengthen, too, and the NHC is forecasting Sandy to be a category 1 hurricane when it makes landfall in both Jamaica and Cuba. I; however, believe that Sandy will likely remain a strong tropical storm with winds 65 to 70 mph, just below hurricane strength.
Either way, the main threat of Sandy will be very heavy rainfall of 6" of more possible for Jamaica, Cuba and Hispaniola and that could lead to mud slides.
Sandy is expected to continue a northward movement through the end of the week, making its way into the Bahamas by Friday.
Obviously, this track will have a high impact on cruise travel. At the time of this blog post cruise lines still had not announced any changes to planned vacations; however, that will likely change.
Beyond Friday, there are quesions regarding Sandy's track and it is highly dependent on an approaching trough over the central U.S. that wants to head east. As long as the trough continues to push eastward it will end up pushing Sandy into the open Atlantic. However, if it would stall or slow down a continued northward track would take place and that could lead Sandy into the eastern U.S. coast. I will keep close tabs on this possibility over the next several days.