Tropical storm Sandy closes Jamaica airports

Tropical storm Sandy is headed for Jamaica, Bahamas, and Cuba. Tropical storm Sandy could dump as much as 20 inches of rain.

National Hurricane Center
Satellite photos of tropical storm Sandy at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012.

Jamaicans hunkered down at home as Tropical Storm Sandy buffeted the Caribbean island with pelting rain and howling winds early Wednesday and forecasters said it was likely to hit as a hurricane.

The island's international airports prepared to close, cruise ships changed their itineraries and police ordered 48-hour curfews in major towns to keep people off the streets and deter looting as the late-season storm neared Jamaica's south coast.

The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was forecast to pass over Jamaica and then spin on into eastern Cuba by Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. It was expected to pass west of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, where pretrial hearings are being held for a suspect in the deadly 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole off Yemen.

RECOMMENDED: Five things to do to prep for a hurricane

Across Jamaica, poor people in ramshackle shantytowns and moneyed residents in gated communities were jittery about Sandy's approach. Many sections of the debt-shackled country have crumbling infrastructure, and a lack of building codes has resulted in some middle-class homes and tin-roofed shacks being built close to steep embankments and gullies.

Dangerous flash floods and mudslides set off by Sandy were a threat for the island of roughly 2.7 million inhabitants, Jamaica's meteorological service said.

In the hilly community of Kintyre, near the capital of Kingston, Sharon Gayle and a few of her drenched neighbors expected to lose the town's bridge over the Hope River, which washed away a section of the span just three weeks ago during a heavy downpour.

"We've gotten cut off here a whole heap of times. But with a big nasty hurricane on the way, I'm really nervous. We're trying not to show it in front of the children though," the mother of three said, huddling under a sopping white towel as she stared at the rising river.

The storm was predicted to drop as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, especially over central and eastern parts of Jamaica, the country's meteorological service said. Some isolated spots could see as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters), according to U.S. forecasters. Battering waves and a strong storm surge were also forecast.

Airports in Kingston and were scheduled to close Wednesday morning and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that its Allure of the Seas megaship would not stop at Jamaica's northern Falmouth terminal on Wednesday, remaining at sea instead.

To deter looters and other criminals, Deputy Police Commissioner Glenmore Hinds warned that police "will react swiftly to protect life and property."

In Cuba, authorities issued a hurricane watch for several provinces and there were intermittent rains over Haiti, where a tropical storm warning was in effect. A tropical storm watch was also posted for parts of the Bahamas, where the storm was predicted to pass Thursday.

Although Florida was not expected to receive any direct impact from Sandy, Brian Koon, director of the U.S. state's emergency management division, said residents should remain aware of the storm and take precautions to keep themselves safe from indirect impacts including rip currents.

Around dawn Wednesday, Sandy had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph) and was centered 95 miles (155 kilometers) south-southwest of Kingston. It was moving north at 14 mph (22 kph).

Meanwhile, U.S. forecasters said Tropical Storm Tony had formed over the open Atlantic, but posed no threat to land. The storm had maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph (75 kph) and it was moving east-northeast at 16 mph (26 kph). Its center was 1,415 miles (2,275 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores.

RECOMMENDED: Five things to do to prep for a hurricane

___

David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.