NWS: Coastal flooding a concern on Saturday

     The Midway Beach dune system on Dec. 9, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Dominick Solazzo)

    The Midway Beach dune system on Dec. 9, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Dominick Solazzo)

    A potentially significant winter storm could create a moderate to major coastal flooding situation for the Jersey Shore on Saturday, forecasters say. 

    “The potential exists for a high impact winter storm,” a Monday briefing from the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, NJ advises.

    While snow is likely from late Friday through Saturday night — with coastal areas potentially experiencing a change to rain for a time on Saturday — the briefing advises of a potentially moderate to major coastal flooding event due to a strong onshore flow and a full moon.

    “At this time, we can see anywhere from a 1.5 to 4 foot surge at the time of high tide and ocean waves of 12-15 feet bashing the shore,” the National Weather Service forecasters write in a Monday afternoon forecast discussion. “That would mean an extensive Saturday morning coastal flood event, potentially moderate or major.” 

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    But the forecasters say it’s still too soon to know the ultimate outcome.

    “The coastal flood threat in part will be determined by the wind direction at the time of high tide,” the discussion advises, adding that if northeasterly winds are gusting to near 50 knots in the immediate area of the coast “we’ve got big problem on our hands.”

    The service advises the public monitor the upcoming forecasts.

    Meanwhile, heavy snow is also possible, but the briefing notes that the storm is still “several days away” and that “computer models are still differing on the ultimate solution.”

    Accordingly, since there is still uncertainty this far out, the service will likely not produce a snow amount forecast until Wednesday.

    Forecasters will have a better handle on the system late Tuesday into Wednesday once it comes ashore from the Pacific Ocean and forecast models can sample the atmospheric conditions.

    Still, the head meteorologist at the Mount Holly office says to stay aware.

    “At this point, you should be continuing to monitor the forecast and make preparations for a high impact winter storm,” tweeted the service’s Gary Szatkowski. 

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