Climatologist warns of back bay flooding in New Jersey

 Barnegat Bay at Seaside Heights, NJ. (Alan Tu/WHYY, file)

Barnegat Bay at Seaside Heights, NJ. (Alan Tu/WHYY, file)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – The latest on the heavy snowfall expected to hit New Jersey. (all times local)

2:20 p.m.

New Jersey’s state climatologist says storm surge levels in the northern part of the Jersey shore from this weekend’s coastal storm won’t be as bad as they were during Superstorm Sandy.

David Robinson said that storm surge levels in the northern half of the coast should be nowhere near those from the destructive October 2012 storm.

He says they might approach Sandy levels in the southern half of the shore, but those counties received less damage from Sandy than their northern counterparts.

But Robinson cautions that back bay flooding and beach erosion could range from moderate to major.

Bay flooding greatly contributed to the damage during Sandy. Bay tides tend to run several hours behind ocean tides.

Water levels are forecast to approach the top five ever recorded in Cape May and top 10 in Atlantic City.

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1:30 p.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie is returning to New Jersey from the presidential campaign trail and is preparing to meet with his cabinet and brief the press.

Christie will hold a storm briefing with his Cabinet members at 7:45 p.m. Friday in Newark before briefing the press at 8 p.m.

He will speak from the Newark Department of Transportation garage.

Christie said Friday he was canceling campaign events Friday and Saturday because of the weather, but New Jersey’s first lady Mary Pat would stay in New Hampshire.

Christie was scheduled to remain in New Hampshire through the weekend, when the bulk of the storm was expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow on parts of New Jersey.

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1 p.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie says he will return to New Jersey from the presidential campaign trail to deal with a potentially dangerous snowstorm that has much of the state under a blizzard warning.

Christie said Frid ay he was canceling campaign events Friday and Saturday because of the weather, but New Jersey’s first lady Mary Pat would stay in New Hampshire.

Christie was scheduled to remain in New Hampshire through the weekend, when the bulk of the storm was expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow on parts of New Jersey.

He has said he was closely monitoring the storm from New Hampshire, held Cabinet meetings by phone and that the state was making all necessary preparations.

Christie’s decision comes as he criticizes GOP rivals, like Sen. Marco Rubio, for missing keys votes in the Senate.

12:15 p.m.

The Delaware River Port Authority says it’s gearing up for the major snowstorm headed for New Jersey.

Crews and equipment are in place to keep the agency’s four bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania safe and passable. Its PATCO trains will continue to operate on a weekend schedule, but may have to slow speed. PATCO will operate on a snow schedule wi th 10-minute headways on Monday.

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry will suspend all crossings between New Jersey and Delaware on Saturday.

Service is expected to resume on Sunday.

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10:45 a.m.

The first flakes from a major snowstorm could start falling over southern New Jersey around 5 p.m. Friday.

However, forecasters say most commuters should be home before the storm kicks into high gear.

Travel could become difficult in parts because the heavier bands of snow could produce 1 to 3 inches an hour.

A blizzard warning is in effect from Friday evening until Sunday and calls for from 4 to 14 inches of snow, with the deepest accumulations in the central part of the state.

A winter storm warning covers Passaic, Bergen, Cumberland, Atlantic, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon and Cape May counties. Sussex County is under a watch.

NJ Transit is preparing to announce plans for its buses and trains.

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6:05 am.

Most of New Jersey is facing a blizzard warning as a major winter nor’easter approaches the state.

The warning is in effect from Friday evening until Sunday and calls for from 4 to 14 inches of snow, with the deepest accumulations in the central part of the state.

A winter storm warning covers Passaic, Bergen, Cumberland, Atlantic, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon and Cape May counties. Sussex County is under a watch.

Forecasters say the snow is expected to spread over the state from south to north primarily after Friday evening’s commute. It could fall in some areas at the rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour on Saturday.

A coastal flooding warning is in effect from Ocean County south.

Gov. Chris Christie will receive an updated briefing on Friday. Christie plans to continue campaigning for president in New Hampshire.

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