Significant coastal flooding is expected early Saturday from a potent northeaster that is expected to develop and move northward, bringing blizzard conditions to parts of North Jersey and New England.

The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood watch for the entire New Jersey coast for late Friday and into Saturday. High tide Saturday morning is forecast to be the highest, with a water level reaching 7.8 feet in Atlantic City, or 2/10ths of a foot shy of the major flooding threshold, according to forecasts.

That will translate to moderate, to potentially major flooding, especially along the back bay areas, said Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service, Mt. Holly office. High tide Saturday morning in Atlantic City is at 6:20 a.m., with back bays occurring up to two hours later.

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A winter weather advisory also is in effect as of 5 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday for all of South Jersey. Snow totals are expected to be between 1 and 2 inches across much of the region, with a few pockets in western Atlantic County potentially getting four inches, according to weather service forecast maps.

Szatkowski warned of two impacts from the storm that may be worse due to existing damage from Hurricane Sandy – moderate to major beach erosion and back bay flooding in places that didn’t used to flood prior to Sandy.

“As we know, Sandy rearranged a lot of stuff in the back bay areas,” Szatkowski said. As for the beaches, “there’s less of it to be eroded in many cases and it could result in some major impacts because there’s just not as much (sand) there to block the heavy wave action.”

Heavy rain and high winds are expected to affect the region for much of Friday, with the worst of the winds expected closest to the coast.

Some area municipalities are already preparing for the potential flooding. Atlantic City is warning residents who live in low-lying sections to move their cars ahead of Saturday morning’s high tide, said emergency management director Tom Foley.

Blizzard warnings are in effect for the New York metro area, including Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey and much of New England. The weather service also has issued “hurricane force wind warnings” out in the ocean just offshore of Long Island and New England.


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