Last night, Tropical Depression 18 strengthened into Tropical Storm Sandy in the Central Caribbean. Sandy has continued to slowly strengthen this morning and is expected to become a hurricane in the next 48 hours. Steering currents around Sandy are currently very weak and the storm is only moving very slowly northwards towards Jamaica. As land is implicated, there are tropical cyclone advisories in effect:
* Cuban Provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, and Guantanamo. (Much of Eastern Cuba)
Tropical Storm Watches
* Central and Southeastern Bahamas
Tropical Storm conditions are likely in Jamaica in the next 36-48hours while hurricane conditions are possible somewhere in Jamaica as the center of Sandy comes onshore. However, the biggest threat for now appears to be heavy rainfall that could lead to life threatening flash flooding and mudslides in Jamaica, Haiti, and Eastern Cuba.
Forecast track… Despite the currently weak steering currents, there is incredible model agreement on the track for the next three days – a northward drift that accelerates to a normal pace, taking Sandy over Jamaica, and Eastern Cuba and exiting the Caribbean into the Central Bahamas.
After that point some forecast models have Sandy being picked up and taken out to sea by a trough descending from Newfoundland, possibly affecting Bermuda, while others have Sandy merging into a trough over the US East Coast, producing a potentially disastrous coastal storm with a heavy snow event inland. It is hard to discredit either solution because they both have support from our most reliable models. The National Hurricane Center’s forecast doesn’t extend that far into the future but it appears they prefer the forecast that has Sandy going out to sea. Keep in mind that the future track is very uncertain and Sandy should be monitored closely.
Forecast Intensity… Sandy should continue to slowly organize and strengthen today as it is embedded in a very moist environment with apparently favorable atmospheric winds. However, Hurricane Hunters observed that the storm is tilted vertically and this will inhibit rapid intensification in the short term. If Sandy manages to align itself vertically, the storm has a better chance of strengthening at a more substantial pace. Regardless, Sandy should be a hurricane before crossing Jamaica. It is expected to then weaken to a tropical storm during the passage and stay at a reduced strength for its Cuba landfall.