The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood watch in effect from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning as a strong northeast storm promises to bring heavy rain and wind gusts up to 55 mph to Ocean City.
The flood watch, issued on Monday, predicts tide levels on the oceanfront in Cape May to be 7.5 feet to 8.0 feet above mean low water during high tides on Wednesday afternoon and early Thursday morning. In his Monday evening forecast, NBC40 meteorologist Dan Skeldon called for tides of 7 to 7.3 feet for the local coastline.
In Ocean City, the tide level reached 10.02 feet on the same scale during Superstorm Sandy (read the right column on the attached PDF). Minor tidal flooding (expected about six times a year) is 6.5 feet, and moderate tidal flooding (once every five years) is 7.5 feet, according to the same chart.
High tides on the bay side of Ocean City at the Ninth Street Bridge occur at 3:29 p.m. Wednesday and 4:05 a.m. Thursday. Residents in flood-prone areas should move their vehicles to higher ground.
Ocean City Public Works Department crews spent much of Monday 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. A federal beach replenishment project on the north end of the island had already completed work at the most vulnerable beaches there.
The forecast calls for a mostly sunny Tuesday afternoon with a high of 44 degrees. But weather conditions will deteriorate rapidly from there.
Rain will likely start overnight on Tuesday and turn heavier through the day on Wednesday. With a predicted high temperature of 41 degrees on Wednesday afternoon and low of 34 degrees on Wednesday night, the precipitation will likely remain all rain in Ocean City — though there is some chance it could turn to a heavy wet snow before dawn on Thursday.
The rain is expected to diminish on Thursday as the coastal storm moves away.
The forecast calls for sustained northeast winds of 31 to 38 mph on Wednesday night with gusts as strong as 55 mph.
The coastal flood watch warns of potential property damage to vulnerable structures, road closings and beach erosion.
The ocean water temperature is 40.5 degrees.