When this storm formed yesterday, it looked like it would move through the Caribbean, graze the Bahamas and then get turned back into the Central Atlantic. However, today, computer models show it strengthening and nudging closer to South Florida. This afternoon, Sandy is now packing 50 mph winds, some 260 miles south of Jamaica. Hurricane warnings are in effect for that island nation and eastern Cuba. After meandering in the southern Caribbean overnight, Sandy is on the move headed northeast at a steady 20 mph clip.
The newest forecast from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm becoming a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday afternoon as it approaches Jamaica.
Tropical storm conditions will spread to nearby Haiti, meaning a high threat of 10 to 20 inches of rain and life-threatening mudslides. Remember, people there are still recovering from the massive earthquake three years ago. Many are still living outside in temporary housing and are exposed to the elements. Once it crosses Cuba, the storm is still expected to be in tact heading over the Bahamas, which is under a tropical storm watch. Some computer models nudge the system to the west, bringing the impact of squally weather and high swells to south Florida.
This is a change from yesterday's forecast which was slower, allowing the storm to be pushed out to the Atlantic by the cold front we're expecting. However, if it continues to outpace the front, south Floridians might see an impact sooner.
There is little to no chance that Sandy will change course and head toward the Gulf.