Hurricane Sandy churned in the Caribbean and Atlantic Wednesday as it plotted a path from Jamaica and the Bahamas to the Florida coast, forecasters said.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Sandy, packing 80 mph winds, was 65 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica, and 235 miles south-southwest of Guantanamo, Cuba, heading north-northeast at 13 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.
The Bahamian government issued a hurricane watch for the central and northern Bahamas and a tropical storm watch was in effect for the eastern coast of Florida to the Volusia-Brevard county line.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Jamaica and a number of Cuban provinces.
The storm was expected to turn toward the north later Wednesday and increase its forward speed, continuing to move north through Friday.
Jamaica was expected to take the brunt of the category 1 hurricane Wednesday before it moves on to Cuba and the Bahamas Thursday.
Sandy was expected to dump 6 to 12 inches of rain across Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba, with 20 inches possible in isolated areas and flash floods and mudslides likely, especially in mountainous areas, forecasters said.
In the Bahamas, Sandy was expected to produce 3 to 5 inches of rain, with 12 inches in some areas. The Florida Keys and southeast Florida can expect 1 to 3 inches of rain, forecasters said.
A storm surge was expected to raise the tide 3 feet along the southern and eastern coasts of Jamaica and 3 to 5 feet in southeastern Cuba. In the Bahamas, tide levels are expected to be 5 to 8 feet higher than normal.
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