A little more than a week after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the coast, a northeaster is likely to strike the region Wednesday and early Thursday, bringing moderate to severe coastal flooding, high winds and heavy rain.
The effects of the coastal storm are expected to be more severe than what would typically occur from a storm of similar magnitude due to shoreline protections having been significantly weakened in many areas from Sandy, the National Weather Service and area offices of emergency management warned Monday. And high winds could cause additional damage to power lines and cause debris from Sandy’s destruction to fly around.
“It’s important to note that this is not going to be a Sandy for the Jersey coastline,” said Erik Pindrock, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.com. “But this is a storm that should be taken seriously as it is expected to bring very strong winds along the coastline. This is the last thing you need.”
The northeaster also will pose a danger to residents who have no heat, as temperatures are expected to be in the upper 30s and low 40s, with windchills in the upper 20s and low 30s during the height of the event. Inland areas may see snow or sleet due to the cold temperatures, but accumulation is unlikely east of Interstate 95, the weather service said.
Post-Sandy recovery efforts are likely to come to a halt and additional damage is probable, including severe beach erosion on already weakened and narrowed beaches, said Gary Szatkowski, senior meteorologist with the weather service in Mount Holly, Burlington County. “We’re concerned because structures or trees weakened during Sandy, but didn’t come down, may take additional damage.”
Atlantic County is urging residents to restock their emergency supply kits in advance of the storm, warning that power outages are possible.
Forecasters are calling for winds of 55 to 65 mph along the coast and winds of 40 to 50 mph inland. Storm-force winds are expected over coastal waters, and 1 to 2 inches of rain are expected to fall. A high-wind watch and a coastal flood watch are in effect for the entire region.
Szatkowski said forecasting models of the storm continue to strengthen, and predictions call for the water level Wednesday afternoon to reach at least 7.5 feet in Atlantic City, with higher levels in the back bays due to strong northeasterly winds.
The water level topped out at 8.9 feet during Sandy, and flooding lasted for four successive high tides. Strong northeasters in the past have brought water levels to between 7 and 8 feet. Eight feet is the threshold for major tidal flooding, with 7 feet the threshold for moderate tidal flooding.
On top of the high tide and storm surge could be waves as high as 8 to 10 feet breaking in the surf zone, which could further erode and weaken dunes, Szatkowski said.
The storm, Szatkowski said, will last two high tides, though if the storm slows down further, the high tide Thursday also could be affected.
The good news? Pindrock says that after this storm moves through, temperatures are expected to warm, winds will die down and the sun will come out for the weekend and into next week.
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