9 things to know as Hermine takes aim at NJ this weekend
At best, Labor Day Weekend weather will be a bust for most of New Jersey. At worst, storm surge will lead to significant flooding along the Jersey Shore.
UPDATE as of 10:30 a.m. Saturday...
Hermine's initial rain bands have moved into South Jersey slightly ahead of schedule. As of this writing, it is now raining in southern Cape May County. Heavier rain is holding just to the south of New Jersey, so the time to hunker down is approaching.
A few wind gusts over 35 mph have been reported Saturday along the coast.
Tidal water levels have also started rising, already necessitating the closure of the Townsends Inlet Bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon.
ORIGINAL POST from 7:26 a.m. Saturday...
As of 5 a.m. Saturday, Hermine was a Tropical Storm located over coastal North Carolina, packing sustained winds of 60 mph and moving east-northeast at 21 mph.
Models have settled on a forecast track that places it well off-shore as it parallels the coastline this weekend. That is good news: the Garden State will end up on the weaker "left" side of the storm.
However, the storm will be moving very slowly from Saturday night through Wednesday morning, and may even stall (get stuck) for a bit within that time frame. Unfortunately, that means the Jersey Shore is prone to get battered continuously with surf and surge (and maybe wind and rain too), even well beyond the Labor Day Weekend.
A Tropical Storm Warning continues for coastal portions of Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem counties.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for coastal portions of Middlesex, Union, Essex, and Hudson counties.
While inland New Jersey is not immune to some dramatic weather from Hermine, the Jersey Shore is clearly going to get hit the hardest. The further north and west you go in New Jersey, the better your chance of seeing a mostly dry or even completely dry weekend. The chance of heavy rain will be higher and wind gusts will be higher closer to the coast.
Coastal concerns absolutely remain New Jersey's top concern from Hermine. Storm surge of 3 to 5 feet is expected during the peak of the storm. The most perilous high tide cycle will be Sunday evening, followed by Sunday and Monday morning. If this surge combines with the time of high tide, the resulting coastal flooding could be major.
I've even seen reports of near-record water rise along New Jersey's south coast (Atlantic and Cape May counties). I'm working on a separate article that will address this possibility, that hopefully will be posted late Saturday morning.
The WaveWatch3 model shows the potential for 25 foot waves off the Jersey coast, with 12+ foot waves potentially crashing into the beach. Obviously, that will make it extremely dangerous to swim, wade, or surf in the ocean through the weekend. The risk for dangerous rip currents will be high, and severe beach erosion is likely.
As the storm is expected to intensify to hurricane-strength early next week, we've upgraded the wind forecast as well. Widespread tropical storm force winds (39+ mph) are likely across all of New Jersey. Gusts to 60 mph will be possible. That's more than sufficient to down trees and power lines - so scattered outages will be possible.
Hermine is expected to transition to a post-tropical cyclone by early Sunday morning. But frankly, such technical nomenclature is irrelevent. This storm is a powerful moisture machine.
Saturday morning's models trend toward a bit more rain than I discussed on Friday. But I still maintain that rain is the least of our worries from Hermine.
If bands of tropical rainfall do develop over New Jersey, rain gauges may accumulate 3+ inches in a very short period of time. That can inundate streets, streams, and rivers and rapidly cause flash flooding of low-lying areas.
The heaviest rain will fall over the Jersey Shore. On the other hand, the further inland you are, there is still a chance of a mostly or completely dry weekend.
--Saturday Morning to Saturday Early Afternoon: Fairly quiet. Cloudy skies. Winds 15 to 25 mph, gusting to 40 mph. Surge building to about 1 foot.
--Saturday Late Afternoon to Saturday Night: Showers arrive, mainly along south coast. Winds 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 45 mph. Surge 1 to 2 feet.
--Sunday Morning to Sunday Afternoon: Peak rain threat: bands of very heavy rain possible. Winds 25 to 40 mph, gusting to 50 mph. Surge 3 to 5 feet.
--Sunday Evening to Sunday Night: Heavy rain threat diminishes, as coastal flooding threat peaks. Winds 25 to 40 mph, gusting to 60 mph. Surge 2 to 4 feet.
--Monday: Some rain possible, as gusty winds and coastal issues continue. Winds 20 to 35 mph, gusting to 60 mph. Surge 2 to 3 feet.
--Tuesday: As the storm remains just off-shore, clouds and some rain may lap up against the Jersey Shore. Winds 25 to 35 mph, gusting to 50 mph. Surge 1 to 3 feet.
--Wednesday: Storm effects finally start to wane, as the storm pulls away from the coast. Winds 15 to 25 mph, gusting to 40 mph. Surge 1 to 2 feet.
9.) Final Thoughts
The breeze you feel and the clouds you see already, as of Saturday morning? That's Hermine.
Conditions are going to go downhill along the Jersey Shore as Saturday and especially Sunday progress along.
Heading down the shore for a holiday weekend filled with sun and fun? Probably not the best idea.
The level of coastal flooding will not rival Superstorm Sandy. If you are looking for recent comparisons - worst-case scenario - I think the surge will be somewhat similar to 2011's Tropical Storm Irene, and the January 2016 blizzard. If you flooded in either of those two storms, and have not taken flood mitigation steps since, you are especially vulnerable to Hermine's effects.
There's still no need to panic. But it's important to treat Hermine with respect and take steps to ensure the safety of you and your family.
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Dan Zarrow is the Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.