Tropical Storm Sandy Closes In on Jamaica

The 18th named storm of the hurricane season has caused Jamaica to close airports, brace for the worst.

In this handout satellite image provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Tropical Storm Sandy moves toward the island of Jamaica on Oct. 22, 2012.

In this handout satellite image provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Tropical Storm Sandy moves toward the island of Jamaica on Oct. 22, 2012.

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Jamaica is preparing to be hit by Tropical Storm Sandy, which is expected to make landfall with near-hurricane force and dump 20 inches of rain on the country. Sandy, currently spinning winds at 70 miles per hour, will likely hit the island Wednesday afternoon.

In preparation, Jamaica has closed its international airport, ordered curfews in populated areas, and braced for the worst. The island's meteorological service said mud slides and flash floods could be particularly problematic given the country's poor population and old infrastructure.

[SEE ALSO: Jamaica Travel Guide by U.S. News]

Sandy's leading edge has already begun to strike Jamaica, and the island has issued a hurricane warning amidst the high winds and heavy rain. Authorities have also issued warnings to deter looting and prepare emergency services in advance of Sandy's landfall.

Sandy is the 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season this year. After passing over Jamaica, it is expected to strengthen slightly and continue northward over eastern Cuba before veering eastward away from the United States East Coast, according to a forecast by Weather Underground,an online weather forecasting company.

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Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.