Editor's note: Residents along the East Coast are being warned to be wary of Hurricane Sandy, whose forecast track takes it along the coast, from off Florida on Friday to off the mid-Atlantic states and possibly as far north as Massachusetts by Tuesday. Here is the full story. See photos here.
The following are the latest developments.
[Updated at 9:32 p.m.] Eleven people in Cuba have died because of Hurricane Sandy, state news reported Thursday night, citing civil defense authorities.
[Updated at 8:49 p.m.] Hurricane Sandy lost a little strength early Thursday evening but still remains a Category 2 storm, the National Hurricane Center reported in its 8 p.m. advisory.
The hurricane has sustained winds of 100 mph - slightly weaker than the 105 mph reported just three hours earlier. Its eye is 105 miles east of the island nation's capital.
[Updated at 5:03 p.m.] Hurricane Sandy remains a Category 2 storm, according to the 5 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
Its strongest sustained winds are still 105 mph. But a larger area is experiencing hurricane-force winds, which now extends 35 miles out from the hurricane's eye, than was the case earlier Thursday afternoon.
As of 5 p.m., the storm was centered about 125 miles east-southeast of Nassau and chugging north at 20 mph.
[Updated at 1:55 p.m.] Hurricane Sandy is now about 25 miles east of Great Exuma Island, the National Hurricane Center says.
It's expected to move through the central Bahamas today and near the northwestern Bahamas on Friday. Â Maximum sustained winds are near 105 mph, with higher gusts. Â It remains a Category 2 storm.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach parts of the east coast of Florida today and spread north through Friday.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic may get up to 20 inches of rain in some areas. Warnings and watches are in place for the islands and parts of Florida.
CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers warns that the storm will impact parts of the Northeast early next week, although the exact path remains unclear.
[Updated at 11:24 a.m. ET] Hurricane Sandy is approaching the central Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, and is about 65 miles south-southwest of the Bahamas' Long Island, the U.S. National Hurricane Center says. The hurricane is expected to move through the central BahamasÂ later today and be near the northwestern Bahamas on Friday.
Flooding in the Bahamas could happen if peak storm surges come at high tide. If that happens, the Bahamas could see floodwaters of 5 to 8 feet. The storm is expected to drop 3 to 12 inches of rain over portions of the Bahamas, besides battering it with hurricane-force winds.
Sandy is a Category 2 hurricane, which has "extremely dangerous winds" of between 96-110 mph that can cause extensive damage, the hurricane center said.
Though the storm's eye isn't expected to hit Florida, a tropical storm warning - meaning tropical storm conditions are imminent - has been issued forÂ Lake Okeechobee and Florida's east coast from Ocean Reef to Flagler Beach. Flooding also is a concern in this area - 1 to 2 feet of flooding is possible if peak storm surges combine with high tide, the center said.
One to 3 inches of rain could fall across the Florida Keys into southeast and east-central Florida as the storm's center moves along - but relatively far away from - the coast Thursday and Friday, the center said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the the Ragged Islands of the southeastern Bahamas, and central and northwestern Bahamas.
Now that it's about 100 miles north of Cuba, a hurricane warning for that country has been discontinued.
[Updated at 10:24 a.m. ET] Hurricane Sandy could mean extra business for Brevard County, Florida, as cruise lines send their ships into Port Canaveral, CNN affliliate WKMG reports.
â€śSome of the ships from Norfolk and Miami are coming to Port Canaveral. The passengers will be able to go to the beach and weâ€™ll still sell shore excursions to the area attractions,â€ť the station quoted Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines, as saying.
[Updated at 9:21 a.m. ET] Florida's Division of Emergency Management says that while Hurricane Sandy is not expected to come ashore in the state, it will still bring strong winds, heavy rain and dangerous conditions on beaches.
Winds along some parts of the state's east coast could reach 50 mph on Friday, the agency said.
Waves hitting beaches could reach 10 feet, it said, with a storm surge of 1 to 2 feet.
Beach erosion and coastal flooding were likely along with strong rip currents lasting into next week, the agency said.
[Updated at 8:59 a.m. ET] Florida school districts within the tropical storm warning area for Hurricane Sandy were canceling classes and activities as the storm moved off the state's east coast on Thursday.
Palm Beach County public schools were sending students home three hours early on Thursday and closing on Friday, the district said. Afterschool activities were canceled.
To the north in Martin County, schools were closing two hours early on Thursday and afterschool activities were canceled. The district said it would announce plans for Friday on Thursday.
In St. Lucie County, Thursday is a scheduled early release day for students and Friday is a scheduled student holiday.
To the south in Broward County, schools canceled all outdoor activities for Thursday and Friday, but classes continued as scheduled.
[Updated at 8:06 a.m. ET] Hurricane Sandy was moving Thursday morning between northeastern Cuba and the central Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. ET advisory.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for the Ragged Islands in the southeastern Bahamas as well as the central and the northeastern Bahamas. Warnings are also in effect for six provinces of Cuba.
Sandy remained a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds.
[Updated at 7:54 a.m. ET] The Bahamas Department of Meteorology says Hurricane Sandy could produce storm surges of 5 to 8 feet on some islands.
[Update at 7:07 a.m.] A tropical storm warning for Florida has been extended north to Flagler Beach, between Daytona Beach to the south and Jacksonville to the north, as Hurricane Sandy was moving off Cuba and toward the Bahamas on Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected in the area in 24 to 36 hours.
[Update at 6:38 a.m.] Hurricane Sandy was moving off the coast of Cuba Thursday morning, having weakened slightly. The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. ET update that the storm's maximum sustained winds were at 105 mph, down from 11o mph earlier Thursday.
[Update at 1:56 a.m.] Â Sandy claims one life in Jamaica and one in Haiti, media reports said.
[Updated at 1:41 a.m.] Continuing to strengthen, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in southeastern Cuba early Thursday as a strong Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and gusts to 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reports.
[Posted at 1:33 a.m.] Hurricane Sandy rapidly strengthened into a Category 2 storm off the southeastern coast of Cuba early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reports.