The Met Service is reporting that Tropical Storm Sandy is now near hurricane strength as it moves closer to Jamaica.
A hurricane warning remains in effect for the island.
At 7:00 a.m. the centre of Tropical Storm Sandy was located near Latitude 16.6 degrees North, Longitude 76.9 degrees West, or about 155 kilometres (95 miles) south of Kingston, Jamaica.
Sandy continues to move towards the north near 22 km/h (14 mph) and this general motion is expected to continue today and tomorrow with a gradual increase in forward speed.
The centre of Sandy is now forecast to reach Jamaica’s southern coast this afternoon, then make its way across the island from south to north.
Maximum sustained winds are near 110 km/h (70 mph), with higher gusts, and some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.
Sandy is expected to become a hurricane before reaching Jamaica.
Tropical storm force winds extend up to 220 kilometres (140 miles), primarily east of the centre.
Residents should now expect 150-300 mm (6-12 in) of rainfall across the island with highest amounts over eastern parishes and higher elevations. This will produce extensive flooding and trigger dangerous landslides.
On the current forecast track, winds will increase to tropical storm force this morning, initially coming out of the east.
As Sandy makes landfall near Kingston during the mid-afternoon, eastern parishes will experience hurricane-force winds out of the south while central and western parishes will feel northerly winds of slightly lower intensity.
Communities in the path of the hurricane’s centre will experience a change in wind direction from easterly to westerly as Sandy makes its way to the north coast over eastern St. Mary this evening.
Storm surges of 1-2 metres (3-7 feet) should be expected over coastal areas between Kingston and Morant Point as Sandy approaches; however, above-normal seas could also be experienced along the north coast from Port Maria westward as the system departs this evening.
All small craft operators are advised to remain in safe harbour until all warning messages have been lifted and wind and sea conditions have returned to normal.
The next Bulletin on Tropical Storm Sandy will be issued at 11:00 a.m. today.
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