According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of Wednesday, the center of Tropical Storm Sandy was located over the Caribbean Sea about 160 mi les south of Kingston, Jamaica and 315 miles south-southwest of Guantanamo, Cuba. At this time, maximum sustained winds of 65 mph was recorded, still the equivalent of a tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale. Sandy has doubled in size over the past 24 hours and is currently a large storm with tropical storm force winds extending outwards up to 140 miles from the center.
The official NHC forecast has Sandy tracking to the north through to Friday. On this forecast track the center of Sandy will track over Jamaica late Wednesday, over eastern Cuba on early Thursday, and over the eastern Bahamas later the same day and into Friday. Under the NHC forecast Sandy is expected to strengthen temporarily during the next 24 hours before impacting Jamaica as it moves slowly over sea surface temperatures in excess of 29C and into an environment of decreasing wind shear and increasing moisture content (conditions conducive for strengthening). Interaction with land masses as the system tracks over Jamaica and eastern Cuba, and the movement of the system into an environment of increasing vertical wind shear, is expected to induce weakening- Sandy is forecast to be a tropical storm for the remainder of its track through the Caribbean.
The majority of models are calling for Sandy to strengthen to a hurricane though the uncertainty in the intensity forecast is reflected in the spread of the model intensity guidance from moderate tropical storm to a Category 2 hurricane. However, unlike the NHC forecast which calls for weakening in around 24 hours time, the majority of the models suggest that Sandy could remain at hurricane strength through the next 72 hours, with half of the models indicating Sandy could stay at hurricane strength beyond this time.
Tropical storm force winds will begin affecting Jamaica this morning, with hurricane force winds expected later today as the tropical storm force winds begin impacting Cuba and Haiti. Sandy is forecast to bring heavy rain to the central Caribbean, total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum accumulations of 20 inches possible, which may produce life threatening flash floods and mudslides. A storm surge of 1 to 3 feet above normal tides is possible along the southern and eastern coasts of Jamaica, 3 to 5 feet in southeastern Cuba, and as much as 4 to 7 feet in the Bahamas.
At this time, a hurricane warning is currently in effect for Jamaica and the eastern Cuban provinces. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Haiti and the central Bahamas, and a tropical storm watches is in effect for the southeastern and northwestern Bahamas.
Tropical Storm Tony:
On Wednesday, the nineteenth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season was declared – Tropical Storm Tony.
At this point (October 24) in 2012 the season is the third most active season (joint with 1887, 1995, 2010 and 2011) since records began in 1851 in terms of the number of tropical storms in the Atlantic basin; itself a level well above the long-term average of 10.7 and above the average for the more recent period from 1995–2011 where the average number of tropical storms stands at 14.7.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of Wednesday, the center of Tony was located over the central tropical Atlantic about 1,500 mi west-southwest of the Azores. At this time, maximum sustained winds of 40mph were recorded, equating to a ‘weak’ tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale. At this time, Tony is a small size storm with tropical storm force winds extending outwards up to 45 miles from the center.
Tony is forecast by the NHC to track east-northeast across the open waters of the Atlantic, though may pass over the Azores in the coming weekend – the islands having been impacted by several of 2012’s storms. The NHC are forecasting Tony to remain a tropical storm over the next 24 hours before transitioning to an extra-tropical cyclone.