KINGSTON, Jamaica (October 24, 2012)--Jamaicans were hunkering down at home Wednesday as the front edge of Tropical Storm Sandy buffeted the Caribbean island with pelting rain and howling winds.
Officials say dangerous flash floods and mudslides are a threat for the island of roughly 2.7 million inhabitants
The island's international airports were prepared to close, cruise ships changed their itineraries and police ordered curfews in major towns.
The late-season storm, which could possibly cross the country as a hurricane, is expected to rake Jamaica from south to north at midday.
The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to pass over or near Jamaica and then spin on into eastern Cuba by this evening.
It's expected to pass west of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
Weather officials say the storm is predicted to drop as much as 10 inches of rain, especially over central and eastern parts of Jamaica.
Some isolated spots could see as much as 20 inches.
Battering waves and a strong storm surge are also forecast.
Early Wednesday, Sandy had maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour and was centered 160 miles south of Kingston.
It was moving north-northeast at 10 miles per hour.