The latest reports out of the U.S. National Hurricane Center indicate the tropical storm that has been pounding Jamaica with heavy rain has strengthened into a hurricane and is approaching the southeastern coast of the island. The weather center said it spotted Hurricane Sandy about 30 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica.
As Sandy prepares to make its landfall on the Caribbean island Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center noted the change in Sandy's strength in an 11 a.m. EDT update.
Advising that the hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, the NHC also projected Sandy’s path will carry the weather system across the Caribbean island to Cuba, posing a possible threat to Florida.
The Associated Press is reporting that the island's international airports have closed, while cruise ships have reportedly changed itineraries in an effort to dodge the potential wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
In addition, local police have ordered 48-hour curfews in major towns to keep people off the streets and deter looting as the late-season storm neared Jamaica's south coast.
A hurricane warning is also in effect for certain provinces of Cuba that could be in the path of the storm as it moves northward. The NHC said it spotted Sandy about 195 miles south-southwest of Guantanamo, Cuba.
Forecasters had anticipated Sandy might make an appearance close to the U.S. Naval Base, where the pretrial hearings for a suspect in the deadly 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole off Yemen are scheduled to be held.
Hurricane Sandy is the 10th hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, which was expected to see only between five and eight hurricanes, according to Live Science.
The NHC said tropical storm conditions were also possible along the southeast Florida coast, the Upper Keys and Florida Bay by Friday morning.
The current weather projections have Sandy remaining a hurricane as it passes over Jamaica and Cuba, but then weakening into a tropical storm before it reaches the Bahamas.
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