Coastal Flooding a Major Concern With Next Storm

By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist
November 03, 2012; 8:30 AM
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Play video A strengthening storm system will affect cities from Florida to Maine between Tuesday and Thursday this week.

Another storm set to ride up the East Coast could lead to major coastal flooding along the already battered New Jersey coastline.

With residents along the mid-Atlantic coast trying to clean up the wreckage and damage caused by Hurricane Sandy earlier this week, Mother Nature is about to cause even more problems along the coast. meteorologists are concerned that a storm system riding up the East Coast could lead to a devastating water rise along the New Jersey coast on Tuesday Night into Wednesday.

A storm is expected to emerge off the Southeast coast of the U.S. on Tuesday. It will then lift northward along the East Coast Tuesday night into Wednesday, rapidly strengthening in the process. This will in turn increase the strength of the winds along the mid-Atlantic coast and lead to a prolonged period of northeasterly, onshore winds for the New Jersey coastline.

A couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to this event. Had Hurricane Sandy not occurred earlier this week, there would be concerns of a typical nor'easter with minor coastal flooding and a minor rise in water.

But, because of the destruction and erosion to the New Jersey coast that occurred, Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno is concerned this could be a moderate to severe coastal flooding event.

The concern comes because of the fact that the protective dunes along the coast were basically wiped out from Atlantic City, N.J. on northward. This in turn, allows for any water rise to have free reign to flow into coastal communities with no barriers.

Sandy: Before and After Photos Show Utter Devastation to New Jersey Coast

Though the storm will not hit at a time of astronomical high tide due to the phase of the moon, a more typical high tide is expected along the New Jersey coast after midnight Tuesday night and again Wednesday afternoon. That will likely be the time when coastal flooding is at its worst.

Right now, if the track holds and the storm rides up the Eastern Seaboard and into southern New England, residents along the New Jersey coast can expect a water rise of 2-4 feet, which is on top of the normal tide cycles.

That means during high tide, Wednesday afternoon, water levels could reach upwards of 8-9 feet. While not as severe as during Hurricane Sandy, a rise like this could once again flood coastal communities with no dunes to protect it.

Below is a table of high tide times and heights. Be aware that these values do NOT factor in the additional water rise with the onshore flow. So, any surge will be on top of the high tide values below, which is what could cause additional damage and flooding.

High Tide Time Wed.
Tide Height (Feet)
Atlantic City, N.J. 1:01 P.M. EST 4.0
Seaside Heights, N.J. 12:48 P.M. EST 4.1
Sandy Hook, N.J. 1:18 P.M. EST 4.5
Montauk Point, N.Y. 3:12 P.M. EST 2.0

However, if the storm passes farther offshore, then the severity of the coastal flooding would lessen.

What About Long Island, NYC?
Farther to the north, coastal flooding is less of a concern over Staten Island and the southern coast of Long Island due to the wind coming from a more northeasterly direction.

Still, a piling of water will occur in Long Island Sound, which can lead to some minor coastal flooding along the northern coast of Long Island and southern Connecticut.

For Battery Park in New York City, meteorologists are not expecting much of a water rise due to the wind direction remaining northeast. The Battery does much worse on a persistent southeasterly wind, like what occurred with Sandy.

Residents along the New Jersey coast should prepare now for a significant water rise Tuesday night into Wednesday as this storm develops.

Coastal flooding won't be the only impacts that this storm brings to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. According to Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, the potential exists for significant snowfall across the Northeast's interior, depending on the storm track.

Stay tuned to for the latest information on this impending storm.


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