Tidal flooding along the back bays may become a “serious problem” on Saturday as a strong coastal storm passes, a National Weather Service meteorologist said this morning.
The “high impact winter weather threat” will begin impacting southern shore areas Friday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
While precipitation amounts and types are still uncertain but will become clearer today (shore areas may experience snow quickly changing to rain and then back to snow Saturday night), forecasters are concerned about strong onshore wind gusts and a full moon helping to trigger coastal flooding on Saturday.
“There continues to be a high potential for widespread moderate to major coastal flooding,” the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, NJ writes in the Wednesday morning forecast discussion.
Initial problems will begin along the oceanfront early Saturday, working into the back bays later Saturday into the night and causing “serious problems,” tweeted Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist-in-charge at the local National Weather Service office.
Surge forecast modeling continues to show a “significant water rise Saturday,” which will depend on the wind direction “especially at high tide as a more onshore component will help water piling up,” the discussion states, adding that the high waves and precipitation “will tend to hold water at the coast adding to the water rise.”
“Damage may occur in some areas as well as potentially severe beach erosion though not of Sandyesque portions in Monmouth and Ocean counties,” the forecast discussion advised last night. “For Atlantic County southward through Cape May County, we may run just a couple of inches shy of Sandy tide levels.”
But the forecasters say its too early to pinpoint the flooding impact, stating that a northeast wind gusting to near 50 knots within the immediate coast would create a “big problem.”
“This potential will continue to be closely monitored as the details of the winter storm become more clear,” the forecasters write.
The National Weather Service says planning should be ongoing to mitigate the impact of “what ‘may’ be a top 5 coastal flood event in our record keeping, dating back through at least the 1940s.”
Additionally, the National Weather Service forecasters will likely release the first snowfall forecasts for Saturday today.
Stay tuned to Jersey Shore Hurricane News for the latest.