Hurricane Sandy strengthened into a Category 2 storm overnight as it began bearing down on southeastern
With its track nudged closer to our shores,
"It's not going to hit us head on or anything, but right now the big thing is the wind threat," said meteorologist Chris Duke of the National Weather Service in Miami.
Expect sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph Thursday, with gusts to 50 mph during the day. Winds are expected to increase to 35 to 40 mph at night and through the day on Friday, enough to knock down trees and power lines. If the system continues to shift west, South Florida could be hit with stronger winds and heavier rains, the weather service said.
Palm Beach County public schools will release students three hours early on Thursday, with no after school or evening activities, and all schools will be closed on Friday. Parents should note that students will be dropped off at their bus stops three hours earlier than normal on Thursday.
Broward schools plan to remain open Thursday and Friday - although Broward students will be off on Friday because of an employee planning day.
The Broward School District otherwise canceled all outdoor activities Thursday and Friday, including some of the biggest high school football games of the year.
Around dawn Thursday,
Rich Andrews didn't mind the churning seas. He said it was "good fishing weather."
"There is no consistency. I've seen it a lot worse than this," said the Pompano Beach resident.
By 5 a.m. Thursday,
Overnight, a wind gust of 114 mph was reported in Santiago De Cuba, the hurricane center reported.
Those flying out of South Florida airports over the next few days should check with their airlines. On Thursday morning, about 15 flights from Miami and 10 from
After intensifying into the season's 10th hurricane on Wednesday, Sandy plowed over Jamaica with howling winds and torrential rains. Local Jamaican organizations reported the island suffered flooding and mudslides, although the extent of the damage was not immediately known.
At least one person was killed in nearby
Sandy was forecast to arrive in the central Bahamas Thursday. The system then is projected to draw within 200 miles of Miami on Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph – stronger than previously forecast.
A tropical storm warning that was issued Wednesday for much of Florida's east coast was extended north to Flagler Beach on Thursday morning.
In Central Florida, a lake wind advisory is being put in place for much of the region including the cities of
The winds will make boating conditions hazardous on lakes in Central Florida, the weather service said.
The lake wind advisory will be in effect from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Thursday.
Sandy is expected to produce about 1 to 2 inches of rain, with the possibility of higher amounts. Overall, it should be less squally than
The nasty weather should start to subside on Saturday.
"Sunday should be clearing up with lighter winds and nice weather," Molleda said.
Central Florida also should see windy conditions Thursday and Friday, with gusts to 45 mph along the coast and to 30 mph in the
Sandy was expected to produce up to 12 inches of rain across Jamaica, Haiti, the
After departing the Bahamas, the system is projected to curve northeast into the Atlantic. Some models predict what's left of it might curve back toward the U.S. coastline and produce severe weather in the Northeast next week.
Closely watching Sandy’s progress Wednesday were many in South Florida’s large Jamaican and Jamaican-American population, estimated at 153,000 by the
"I am sure the community will mobilize to help with goods, services and funds as we have always done," said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. "You always fear for people who live in poorly-built housing."
Standing by in Kingston with a warehouse full of supplies was
To avoid problems, some South Florida-based cruise lines diverted their ships on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Tony, the 19th named storm of the season, formed in the Central Atlantic on Tuesday night. It poses no threat to land. Tony makes 2012 the third busiest season on record, tied with 1887, 1995, 2010 and 2011.