Ocean City Weathers Strong Coastal Storm
A powerful nor'easter begins to move away on Thursday morning.
The rain and wind from a powerful coastal storm had begun to diminish by dawn on Thursday morning (March 7), and Ocean City awoke to find that while many streets were still buried under floodwaters, the city had escaped with relatively little damage.
The nor'easter blew a roof sheathing off the top of Yianni's Cafe in downtown Ocean City, damaged cars that had been left parked on low-lying streets and left many streets impassable.
But as the tide receded on Thursday morning, life in Ocean City began to return to normal. Ocean City schools opened after a two-hour delay. The island's main thoroughfares opened to traffic as a 10:51 a.m. low tide approached.
The sand berm at the southern end of the island — built by the city to protect homes and streets after Superstorm Sandy wiped out the dune system on Oct. 29 — held back the ocean against the two highest tides of the storm. On the north end, equipment for a beach replenishment project appeared unaffected.
Atlantic City Electric listed only 16 power outages in Ocean City on Thursday morning.
The tide gauge at the Bayside Center in Ocean City registered a water level of about 4.5 feet on the NAVD88 scale during the high tide about 4 a.m. Thursday. That equates to about 7.4 feet above mean low water. By comparison, the November 2009 nor'easter reached 8.02 feet in Ocean City and Superstorm Sandy registered a record 10.02 feet.
There was no accumulated snow in Ocean City on Thursday morning. After reaching speeds beyond 60 mph on Wednesday afternoon, winds decreased through the night. Thursday morning was still blustery, but with sustained winds closer to 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph.
In the early morning hours, the center crest of Ninth Street was the only completely dry part of the road for cars traveling to and from the new Ninth Street Bridge.
Large sections of Bay, Haven and Simpson — Ocean City's bayside avenues — were impassable to traffic.
Cars were driving through shallow water on parts of downtown West Avenue, but long stretches of the road south of 34th Street were completely submerged. The beachside thoroughfares — Central and Wesley — remained dry.
A coastal flood warning remains in effect for Ocean City through 9 a.m. Friday. The next high tide at the Ninth Street Bridge on the bay side of Ocean City (where flooding is typically worst) is 4:40 p.m. Friday morning's high tide is at 5:09 a.m.
Rain is likely to return on Friday, and gusty north winds are expected to continue into the weekend.
In a 10:15 a.m. statement, city officials warned that many streets are still impassable due to flooding.
"Please do not drive around barricades or enter flood-covered streets," the statement says. "The water is likely to be deeper than it appears."