Sandy strengthened and picked up speed as it headed towards Jamaica this morning. The tropical storm was nearing hurricane strength, and could become a hurricane as it nears the island later this afternoon. The forecast track in the short-term was unchanged from yesterday evening… with Sandy expected to cross eastern Cuba tonight and then the Bahamas on Thursday.
New this morning—the National Hurricane Center has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for parts of the Florida Keys and southeastern Florida, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the Bahamas.
Where the storm heads and how it transforms beyond the Bahamas is still uncertain becomes there are so many factors at play. I think we’ll feel much more confident in the forecast on Thursday and Friday, once the storm crosses Cuba. As of this morning, it’s a good bet that the large storm will bring some rough surf and swells into local waters…. and any boaters planning on extended trips out at sea need to pay close attention to later forecasts.
There is still the option that the storm slides out to sea with little impact… but right now I’m leaning towards a period of rain… and possibly gusty winds, coastal flooding and beach erosion…. early next week. Here’s a look at the GFS Ensembles forecasts from this morning. This map from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee shows the number of computer models trying to curve this storm back to the west. This is one of the reasons we’ll be closely monitoring this storm… as should you!