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A tropical storm watch was issued for Jamaica as the Atlantic hurricane season’s eighteenth system began to take shape in the Caribbean Sea.

The depression that formed today may grow into Tropical Storm Sandy as it nears Jamaica on a northeasterly track that will probably cross Cuba and the Bahamas later this week, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center advisory at 11 a.m. New York time.

“The cyclone could be near hurricane strength as it is approaching Jamaica on Wednesday,” the center said. Tropical storm conditions are possible on the island by late tomorrow.

If Sandy forms, the 2012 Atlantic season would tie 1969 as the fourth-most active on record, according to Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The most active year was 2005, when 28 storms formed, including Hurricane Katrina.

The depression is about 320 miles (515 kilometers) south- southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, with winds of 30 miles per hour. A system becomes a tropical storm and gets a name when its winds reach 39 mph.

A reconnaissance aircraft will take measurements inside the system later today, according to the hurricane center in Miami.


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