MIAMI - Tropical Storm Sandy formed in the western Caribbean Sea on Monday and put Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti on alert for severe weather over the next few days, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was centered about 640 km south-southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, and had top sustained winds of 65 kph.
The storm did not pose a threat to the Gulf of Mexico, where US oil and gas operations are clustered.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for both Jamaica and Haiti, meaning residents should expect heavy rains and strong winds within 48 hours.
Computer models showed Sandy was expected to remain a tropical storm on a projected path that would carry it over Jamaica on Wednesday and then eastern Cuba and the Bahamas.
Sandy is expected to dump as much as 5 to 10 inches (12.5-25 cm) of rain across parts of Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and eastern Cuba, forecasters said.