After blasting Jamaica and eastern Cuba Wednesday into Wednesday night, Sandy continued onward, blasting the Bahamas Thursday.
After taking shape midday Monday in the central Caribbean, Tropical Depression 18 intensified into Tropical Storm Sandy six hours later. Sandy became a hurricane Tuesday, prior to making its first landfall east of Kingston, Jamaica.
As a strong Category 2 hurricane, Sandy made landfall a second time early Thursday morning on the southeastern coast of Cuba just west of Santiago de Cuba. Reports from Santiago de Cuba at the time of landfall indicated sustained winds of 78 mph and gusts to 114 mph.
Additional rain will deluge eastern Cuba and portions of Hispaniola as Sandy continue to depart Thursday. Tropical storm-force wind gusts may also persist into the afternoon.
According to the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center, Sandy will continue a northward movement into Friday and then off the East Coast of the U.S. this weekend.
The central Bahamas will be slammed by gusts to 100 mph in some cases.
The bigger cities of the northwestern Bahamas, including Nassau and Freeport, will get inundated by the heaviest rain from Sandy Thursday afternoon through Friday evening with totals of 4-8 inches forecast. Sustained winds of 40-60 mph with hurricane-force gusts are expected.
"The big concern is flooding. Wind damage and power outages are other threats. First, you get the heavy rain and then the strong wind, and trees get uprooted," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Steve Travis said.
The southeastern Bahamas will be spared the heaviest rain, but amounts can still reach 2-4 inches. Gusts of 50 mph will lash these islands. While the southeastern Bahamas will lie to the east of Sandy's center, severe weather with locally damaging wind gusts, waterspouts and tornadoes are a risk.
Another danger will be building surf and rip currents in these areas and along Florida's east coast as Sandy strengthens and moves northward. Significant beach erosion could occur along the eastern shores of Florida, while Sandy may dump 2-3 inches of rain in the Miami area.
Content contributed by AccuWeather Meteorologist Meghan Evans.
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