By Nicole Rojas | ( | First Posted: Oct 25, 2012 01:42 PM EDT

Projected path map of Hurricane Sandy. (Photo : National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Sandy is setting up to cause quite a bit of trouble for the East Coast as it makes its way through the Caribbean and towards Florida on Thursday. The hurricane, which is a Category 2 storm, is approaching the central Bahamas today and is expected to reach Florida sometime this weekend.

According to The Weather Channel, the pressure gradient between Hurricane Sandy and high pressure from the Northeast will "lead to increasing strong winds over the Florida Peninsula, spreading northward to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Virginia Beach through at least Saturday."

The hurricane, which has maximum sustained winds of nearly 105 mph, is moving northward at 16 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. ET advisory. Sandy is expected to turn towards the north-northwest as it decreases in forward speed by Thursday night, the Miami-based center stated.

The NHC reported that hurricane force winds extended 30 miles from the center of the hurricane and that tropical storm force winds were affecting areas up to 140 miles away. "Wind hurricane conditions are expected to spread across the central and northwestern Bahamas today through Friday," the NHC stated.

"Rip currents, high surf, and, eventually, some coastal flooding are possible in areas of the most persistent onshore flow. Bands of rain on the outer periphery of the circulation will occasionally wrap into the coast, as well," the Weather Channel predicted.

The effects of Hurricane Sandy are expected to be felt as far north as the Mid-Atlantic and New England states. According to the Weather Channel, a "blocking pattern" over the Atlantic appears to be strong enough to prevent Sandy from moving into the Atlantic and instead will push it towards the East Coast.

Additional conditions, including an "upper-level trough in the polar jet stream," could produce an intense East Coast storm, it warned. The storm could produce high winds, heavy rain, major coastal flooding, beach erosion and even wet, heavy snow in the eastern Great Lakes and Appalachians.

As of Thursday afternoon, the NHC has issued a hurricane warning for the Ragged Islands in southeastern Bahamas, the central Bahamas and northwestern Bahamas. The tropical storm warning has been updated to only include Florida's east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach, Lake Okeechobee and the rest of the southeastern Bahamas. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Florida's east coast from Flagler Beach north to Fernandina Beach, Florida's Upper Keys from Ocean Reef to Craig Key and Florida Bay. The hurricane and tropical warnings for Cuba and Haiti have been discontinued.

Sandy is expected to produce rainfall amounts of up to 20 inches in some areas. The NHC reported that the hurricane might produce rainfall between 6 to 12 inches across Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Hurricane Sandy is also expected to produce rainfall of up to 3 inches across the Florida Keys.The NHC warned that storm surge near the coast could cause coastal flooding of up to eight feet in the Bahamas and up to two feet on the Florida coast.

The National Hurricane Center will release the next complete advisory for Hurricane Sandy at 2 p.m. ET. 

Projected Path Map (5-Day)

(Photo: Weather Channel) Projected path map for Hurricane Sandy with maximum winds.
(Photo: Weather Channel) Projected path map for Hurricane Sandy with maximum winds.
Hurricane Sandy- Wind
(Photo : )
(Photo: National Hurricane Sandy) The tropical storm force wind speed probabilities for Hurricane Sandy.

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