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by : Alpha Insurance Analysts

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of Wednesday, the center of Tropical Storm Sandy was located over the Caribbean Sea about 160 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica and 315 miles south-southwest of Guantanamo, Cuba. At this time, maximum sustained winds of 65 mph were recorded, still the equivalent of a tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Sandy has doubled in size over the past 24 hours and is currently a large storm with tropical storm force winds extending outwards up to 140 miles from the center.

The official NHC forecast has Sandy tracking to the north through to Friday. On this forecast track the center of Sandy will track over Jamaica late Wednesday, over eastern Cuba on early Thursday, and over the eastern Bahamas later the same day and into Friday.

NHC expects Sandy to strengthen temporarily during the next 24 hours before reaching Jamaica but then weaken as it interacts with land over Jamaica and eastern Cuba. Sandy is forecast to be a tropical storm for the remainder of its track through the Caribbean.

According to catastrophe modeling firm Risk Management Services (RMS), models are calling for Sandy to strengthen to a hurricane though the uncertainty in the intensity forecast is reflected in the spread of the model intensity guidance from moderate tropical storm to a Category 2 hurricane. However, RMS said, unlike the NHC forecast which calls for weakening in around 24 hours time, the majority of the models suggest that Sandy could remain at hurricane strength through the next 72 hours, with half of the models indicating Sandy could stay at hurricane strength beyond this time.

RMS said tropical storm force winds will begin affecting Jamaica this morning, with hurricane force winds expected later today as the tropical storm force winds begin impacting Cuba and Haiti. Sandy is forecast to bring heavy rain to the central Caribbean, total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated maximum accumulations of 20 inches possible, which may produce life threatening flash floods and mudslides. A storm surge of 1 to 3 feet above normal tides is possible along the southern and eastern coasts of Jamaica, 3 to 5 feet in southeastern Cuba, and as much as 4 to 7 feet in the Bahamas.

At this time, a hurricane warning is currently in effect for Jamaica and the eastern Cuban provinces. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Haiti and the central Bahamas, and a tropical storm watches is in effect for the southeastern and northwestern Bahamas.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Tony has become the nineteenth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

According to the NHC, as of Wednesday, the center of Tony was located over the central tropical Atlantic about 1,500 miles west-southwest of the Azores. At this time, maximum sustained winds of 40 mph were recorded, equating to a weak tropical storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. At this time, Tony is a small size storm with tropical storm force winds extending outwards up to 45 miles from the center.

Tony is forecast by the NHC to track east-northeast across the open waters of the Atlantic, though may pass over the Azores in the coming weekend – the islands having been impacted by several of 2012's storms. The NHC are forecasting Tony to remain a tropical storm over the next 24 hours before transitioning to an extra-tropical cyclone.

RMS said it will continue to monitor both Sandy and Tony.

Source: RMS