On Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the center of Hurricane Sandy, now a Category 2 hurricane, was inland over southeastern Cuba, 10 miles north-northwest of Santiago de Cuba and 50 miles west-northwest of Guantanamo. On the forecasted track, the center of Sandy will continue across Cuba, reaching the Bahamas later Thursday and taking 24 hours to pass through those islands. There is generally good agreement between the models for the track path over the next 72 hours.

Hurricane Sandy is then expected to move north, up the eastern coastline of the United States over the next several days.

At 11 a.m. EDT, maximum sustained winds were recorded at 105 mph, the equivalent of a strong category 2 hurricane. Sandy is still a large storm with hurricane and tropical storm force winds extending outwards up to 30 miles and 140 miles from the center, respectively. As a category 1 storm, Sandy hit the southeastern coast of Jamaica, 5 miles east of Kingston, late Wednesday, after intensifying from a tropical storm prior to landfall.

Beyond 72 hour NHC forecast, Sandy is expected to track to the northeast, parallel to the east coast of the United States, approximately 250 miles offshore. Importantly, the NHC forecast is to the east of the ECMWF, NPGS and GFDL models, reflecting the uncertainty in the extended forecast, NHC said.

Hurricane season concludes on November 30, and tropical storms in the United States are common this time of year. In 2005 for example, Hurricane Wilma made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in Florida on October 24, inflicting $10.3 billion in insured losses, or $11.7 billion in 2011 dollars. According to analysis by the Insurance Information Institute, Wilma was the fourth costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

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