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South Jersey's current heat wave, explained

Atlantic City International Airport has not reported a high temperature above 90 degrees yet this season.

That is about to change, big time.

A heat wave, classified as three or more days above 90 degrees, is expected to sweep across the mainland. Five to even six days of 90 degree-plus heat will bake the region as the calendar flips from June to July. The upper and lower levels of the atmosphere will work in tandem to achieve this. Local businesses are ready for the stretch of sun and warmth.

“The heat wave will encourage people to go to the shore. However, we’re a totally shaded park, so that’s good for us. Storybook Seaport helps because children can go around and be cooled off by the fountains. People will worry about the heat index, but we intend to face it. We have seen this heat before,” said JoAnne Fricano, of Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township.

Heat waves typically occur when an area of high pressure moves overhead and stalls. This helps to build the hot air as it becomes stagnant and cannot be mixed out. However, there are exceptions.

The jet stream, the upper level river of air separating the cool air to the north and the hot air to the south, will extend into northern Quebec, giving South Jersey an open door for sweltering temperatures.

jmartucci-pressofac / JOE MARTUCCI Press Meteorologist  

This is the jet-stream map for 2 a.m. on Sunday. The brightest colors show where the fastest winds, and the jet stream, lies. Note how it is hundreds of miles north of New Jersey. This lets the heat from the Gulf of Mexico move on in. Image courtesy of TropicalTidibts. 

In the mid-levels, a ridge of high pressure will build in from the western United States. Meteorologists look at the thickness of the atmosphere at the 500 millibar level as a guide to show how hot it will be. The thicker the atmosphere, the warmer it will be.

The thickness for Saturday until until Thursday is 594 to 600 decameters. This is near and above the record high thicknesses. A heat dome forms as a result, trapping the air and preventing it from mixing out for days.

Down farther in the atmosphere is the 850 millibar level. The temperatures here are often used as a guide to show what surface temperatures will be. A surge of hot air will rush in from the Great Plains to New Jersey between Friday morning and Saturday night. This will prime the region for sustained 90 degree-plus heat. Temperatures of 19 to 23 degrees Celsius at this level translate into highs in the 90s as long as there is plenty of sun, which South Jersey will most certaintly have.

jmartucci-pressofac / JOE MARTUCCI Press Meteorologist  

These are the 850 millibar temperatures, around 5,000 feet high, between early Friday and midday on Sunday. Notice the deep reds eject from the Great Plains and race toward New Jersey. Loop is courtesy of TropicalTidbits. 

The surface is then the last layer of the atmosphere meteorologists typically study for a forecast. Weak high pressure sits near North Carolina over the weekend, pumping in southwest winds. Then, high pressure extends out from the Azores thousands of miles away, keeping us dry for most of the July Fourth week. Southeast winds will keep mainland temperatures around 90, instead of in the mid-90s — not as hot, though it will be more humid.

Chris Mesanko, owner of Thundering Surf Waterpark in Beach Haven, said business will get a boom, at least initially.

“Going from 85 to 90 degrees is an enormous plus. A sunny and hot four days isn’t always the greatest thing in the world, though. After three days of 90 degree heat, people stay in for the air conditioning. In the end though, when it’s sunny, you can’t keep the people away,” said Mesanko, who has been with the water park for 41 years.

At The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, the future is looking bright this weekend, and not just because of the sun.

“We are expecting a great weekend with the weather and the excitement of the two new neighbors that joined us (Hard Rock Casino and Ocean Resort Casino). The weather is always a bit cooler on the beach, so we are looking forward to it,” said Sharon Franz, director of marketing for the Steel Pier.

Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer  

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is officially open as of Thursday. ‘Not only did we open one, we’re opening two casinos in one day,’ said Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, who attended both openings. ‘Atlantic City is open for business.’ June 28, 2018 (Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer)

ERIN GRUGAN / Staff Photographer  

Carl D’Argenzio, of Washington Township, celebrates a win. on the roulette table during the opening day at Ocean Resort Casino. D’Argenzio also visited the Hard Rock Atlantic City. “It’s not as crazy and over-crowded at Ocean. We’ve had such an easy time getting our cards and everything,” D’Argenzio said. Thursday, June 28

Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer  

Hundreds of people roam Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City during its opening Thursday. June 28, 2018 (Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer)

Atlantic City bets on Hard Rock, Ocean resort to revive South Inlet

ATLANTIC CITY — Grand openings Thursday of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Ocean Resort Casino breathed new life into two of the city’s most iconic properties and reinvigorated the Boardwalk in the South Inlet.

Others are hoping the opening of the casinos will breathe new life into another iconic property — the Showboat — which opened several new businesses inside the hotel this week, and the business district on Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Pacific avenues.

Bart Blatstein, owner of the Showboat, sat in an outdoor restaurant Thursday in front of his hotel with two of his business partners and beamed as hordes of people walked by and in and out of the hotel.

“Look at this … you haven’t seen this many people on this part of the boardwalk in 8-10 years,” he said as he squeezed a lemon into a soda. “This is the day we’ve been waiting for, and I couldn’t be happier for Jim Allen and Bruce Deifik. They are true visionaries and heroes in Atlantic City.”

Blatstein’s confidence in the new casinos was reflected inside the Showboat, where nearly all of the available hotel rooms sold out for this weekend.

The tarp covering the former casino floor was taken down and the lights for old slot machine games, including Mr. Cashman and the Penny Carnival, shone and blinked brightly as people walked through the lobby.

On Virginia Avenue away from the casinos, employees and workers were working quickly to renovate and reopen the Vietnamese restaurant Pho Saigon, which underwent changes in anticipation of more people walking around town in the South Inlet.

“Everyone has been saying that this will be the turning point for us down here,” Teresa Mao, an employee at Pho Saigon, said on Thursday. “We are still delivering food now and hope to have the full restaurant back open this week. You can already see more people than usual walking by here.”

This week, several new businesses also opened their doors inside the Showboat.

Bridget Den Bor, one of the new owners inside the hotel, opened the “Starcade Atlantic City” across from the casino floor that features 45 restored 1980s-style arcade games, including Frogger, Pacman, and several pinball machines.

“The Showboat contacted us in March about opening the finest arcade on the boardwalk,” Den Bor said. “Usually getting everything ready takes 4-6 months, but they said it had to be open by the time the two casinos opened. We really worked hard to get this open, and this is just the beginning.”

Den Bor added that when completed, the arcade will feature nearly 100 games and a console room that will have Playstations, Xboxs, and Nintendo Switchs.

Next to the arcade are two mini-golf courses, one of which is a dark-light “glow golf” game.

Blatstein said more new businesses and conventions are coming to the property, which will include restaurants and new plans for the former Spirit Bar at the House of Blues.

This weekend the property will host MMA fights, one of numerous events the Showboat has held over the past year.

Near the check in desk a 14,000 square foot fitness center opened its doors for the first time on Thursday. The fitness center, called Matrxx, will be open 24 hours a day, every day of the year and will be available to guests and anyone who wants to buy a membership.

The fitness center features cardio machines, weights, tanning and massage booths, 10 large televisions, and full locker rooms.

Wendy McDaniel, a former employee of Revel and now an employee of Matrxx, said she is excited for the future of the South Inlet.

“It’s all starting to come back together,” she said. “It was dark here for a long, long time.”

Blatstein said it’s a new day for the Showboat and the South Inlet as a whole.

“We have the largest continuous convention floor on the boardwalk and the second largest on the island,” Blatstein said. “There are 8,000 hotel rooms and 20,000 parking spaces between us, Ocean Resort and Hard Rock… This is a new day here and the South (Inlet) will rise again.”

Atlantic City Hard Rock, Ocean Resort opening weekend continues

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the price of the Sam Hunt beach concert, ticket prices start at $59.50.

ATLANTIC CITY – The city’s two new casinos, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Ocean Resort Casino, opened their doors Thursday amid splintering guitars, popping champagne corks, falling confetti, blaring music and a bustling Boardwalk.

Before the weekend is over, the historic dual casino openings — both of which welcomed gamblers the night before — are expected to draw as many as 1 million people to the resort, ending with a Sunday beach concert by country music artist Sam Hunt.

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam celebrated the day as a “new era.”

“Not only did we open one, we’re opening two casinos in one day,” said Gilliam, who attended both openings. “Atlantic City is open for business.”

A noticeable energy was present on the Boardwalk and trickled into the casinos. Long lines formed inside as residents and visitors gathered to be part of the action.

“They brought a Vegas feel (to the Boardwalk),” said Atlantic City resident Ed Cota, 33. “I think it’s going to rocking for a long time.”

Cota said Hard Rock reminds him of entertainment and he liked the music and energy inside while sitting at an electronic craps game on the casino floor.

Hard Rock marked their opening with the company’s traditional smashing of guitars and musical performance from “The Greatest Showman” on stage of the Hard Rock LIVE at Etess Arena.

“We believe this project will create a new renaissance in the future for the expansion and excitement of Atlantic City going back to being one of the great entertainment cities in the United States,” said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole Gaming.

He said he hopes the $500 million renovation of the former Trump Taj Mahal will be “the bridge to a revitalization of Atlantic City.”

At Ocean Resort, a Frank Sinatra soundtrack floated in the background as city, state and casino officials cut the ribbon that reopened the 6.3 million-square foot casino hotel in the Inlet.

The former Revel had been closed since 2014, with little prospect of reopening until Colorado developer Bruce Deifik bought it for $200 million on Jan. 4.

Deifik, standing with his wife, son and daughter in front of the towering hotel and casino, said he has been working on this investment for the past 13 months – a period that includes the time he was negotiating its sale with Florida developer Glenn Straub.

Seeing it come together was a special moment for Deifik, who called himself the “head ambassador” for the casino.

“I really have felt that there’s a renaissance that’s been happening (in Atlantic City),” Deifik said. “Things are changing.”

Talk of a rebirth for this gambling city was contagious Thursday.

The new casinos, the dawn of sports betting, and the September opening of Stockton University’s beach campus all suggested a shift away from the last five years of casino closings, lost jobs and a controversial state takeover of local government.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, said both openings were part of a new path for Atlantic City, one that couldn’t have happened without “unpopular” moves — a reference to the 2016 takeover.

“Atlantic City had some really dark days,” he said.

“We’re on the rise and we couldn’t have done it without Hard Rock. ... We’re back.”

Joining officials at Ocean Resort, State Sen. Chris Brown, R — Atlantic, touted the jobs the casinos were bringing.

“How cool is this?” he said. “We have over 3,500 families here in Atlantic County who are back to work thanks to (Deifik).”

While Hard Rock had the louder, glitzier opening, Ocean Resort had a few surprises too. The casino welcomed celebrity Mark Wahlberg, who made a sports bet at the William Hill Sports Book.

Wahlburgers, a family restaurant, should be open in the next 30 days, he said.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity for everybody to be a part of the community, and to be a part of our family, and to share our family experience with the families of Atlantic City,” he said.

Absent Thursday was Gov. Phil Murphy, who cancelled his scheduled appearances in Atlantic City Thursday to stay in Trenton and focus on budget negotiations in an effort to avoid a state government shutdown on July 1.

Because Atlantic City casinos are regulated by the state, a shutdown would force the gaming halls to close after seven days.

Allen was asked about his concerns of a looming shutdown putting a damper on the party.

Allen said he wasn’t worried, adding he is a “firm believer in the process.”