Nor'easter Bears Down on Ocean City
Warnings for coastal flooding and high winds are in effect.
A strong coastal storm is expected to batter Ocean City on Wednesday and Thursday.
The National Weather Service has issued warning for high winds and coastal flooding. The storm will provide the first real test of Ocean City's eroded beaches and the sand berms created as a stopgap measure to replace dune systems wiped out by Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29.
Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout Wednesday with rain, wind and tide levels increasing to a peak at about 4 a.m. Thursday morning.
THE FORECAST: Heavy rain is expected throughout Wednesday (high near 42 degrees) with east winds gusting as high as 50 to 60 mph. The rain and wind will continue Wednesday night. Though the low temperature is predicted to remain above freezing, a small amount of accumulating snow is possible. Rain is expected to continue on Thursday.
WARNINGS: A "Coastal Flood Warning" is in effect from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Thursday. The forecast warns of road closings, dune breaches and possible property damage to vulnerable structures. A "High Wind Warning" is in effect from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday. It predicts sustained northeast winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. The forecast warns of the potential for downed power lines and electrical outages.
WHEN ARE HIGH TIDES IN OCEAN CITY? The lesser will be at 3:29 p.m. Wednesday and the greater at 4:05 a.m. Thursday (on the bay side of Ocean City at the Ninth Street Bridge).
HOW BAD WILL IT REALLY BE? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide level forecast for Atlantic City (check it here) calls for a tide level approaching 8 feet (mean low water) in the wee hours of Thursday morning. On the same MLW scale: Superstorm Sandy tide level reached 10.02 feet in Ocean City; the November 2009 nor'easter in Ocean City reached 8.02 feet; and Tuesday's highest tide reached a little over 4 feet. (Check Ocean City tide levels in real time.) The Wednesday afternoon high tide is forecast to be less than 6 feet in Atlantic City.
WHAT ABOUT DAN? Because we trust NBC40 meteorologist Dan Skeldon's knowledge of local conditions, we always like to check in. He's sticking pretty much to script (with other forecasters) on this one. More a flooding event than a snowy one for the coast. "Now I can't stress this enough that this will fall WELL short of Sandy's record levels back in October," Skeldon predicts. "But do expect road closures and widespread flooding along our shore and back bay communities Wednesday night and early Thursday morning." He said at least minor tidal flooding could stick around through the Friday afternoon high tide as the storm moves away slowly.
WHAT TO DO: Definitely move cars from flood-prone streets to high ground. The city posted the following: "Residents are advised to remove or secure loose objects on porches and around properties in anticipation of high winds. Contractors are requested to properly secure all work sites and remove all loose debris and materials that may become a problem in the event of high winds or flooding. Residents, visitors and property owners are advised to closely monitor weather conditions and forecasts for the next 24 hours."
WHAT'S BEEN DONE? Ocean City Public Works Department crews spent two days working to shore up sand berms on the south end of the island and other areas where dune systems were wiped out by Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29.