It was hard to imagine on Monday afternoon on the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City, where surprisingly large weekday crowds were soaking up the ninth consecutive day of sun and blue skies, but the forecast calls for a dramatic change in the weather.
By Tuesday afternoon, Ocean City could see 50 mph wind gusts, torrential rain and thunderstorms.
The National Weather Service on Monday issued a wind advisory for land and a gale warning for local waters. The warnings will be in effect from noon to midnight on Tuesday (Sept. 18).
The wind advisory warns of sustained winds of 25 to 30 mph with gusts of 50 mph possible near the coast. The wind speeds are expected to increase on Tuesday afternoon and continue on Tuesday evening, diminishing only late on Tuesday night following the passage of a cold front. The advisory suggest that winds could possibly bring down tree limbs and utility lines, knock over outdoor furniture and make driving difficult.
The gale warning predicts sustained winds of 23 to 34 mph and gusts up to 52 mph, along with ocean seas of 6 to 10 feet. The warning suggests inexperienced mariners seek safe harbor prior to the arrival of the storm.
The National Weather Service advisory also warns that the strong cold front could produce areas of heavy rain and flooding where drainage is poor. Some strong thunderstorms are possible.
The chance for showers begins after 2 a.m. Tuesday but increases after 2 p.m. Rainfall on Tuesday night could exceed an inch or higher in localized thunderstorms.
The chance for rain continues into Wednesday morning with the sun expected to return on Thursday.
High tides at the Ninth Street Bridge are 10:23 a.m. and 10:41 p.m., and residents in flood-prone streets may want to consider moving vehicles to higher ground. Residents also can help us chart Ocean City's most flooded streets.
The ocean water temperature was 72.3 degrees on Monday, and surfers were enjoying the last of the swell from distant Hurricane Nadine. But Tuesday's gale out of the south will spoil the good conditions.