By John Cifelli
NJTV News Meteorologist
– Highest impact: coastal flooding
– Heaviest rain: south and east
– Conditions deteriorate Saturday night, remain poor through Monday
Tropical Storm Hermine, currently centered in eastern Georgia, made landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane over the eastern Florida panhandle last night. Since, she has chugged northeastward, essentially travelling I-95 through the southeast towards the Mid-Atlantic. We will see some high clouds from Hermine today in New Jersey, as the moisture and cloud cover associated with the storm streams ahead of the low pressure center. Since yesterday’s update, things have come into focus. A slightly more easterly track is now likely, which means much of the state will be spared the brunt of the system. The stall scenario, where Hermine lingers for an extended period off our coast also is now likely, spelling serious trouble for the state’s coastal communities.
As Hermine moves northeast today, she will pass just east of the Outer Banks of North Carolina before slowing down and turning more northerly. On the northern side of the storm, the New Jersey coast will experience winds out of the east, possibly up to Tropical Storm force in intensity. Beginning late Saturday night, several days of onshore winds coupled with very heavy seas will make coastal flooding and beach erosion the biggest impact Hermine will have on New Jersey. Already running higher than usual due to the recent new moon spring tide, water in the bays and tidal rivers will not drain out with the heavy onshore windflow. Every high tide on Sunday and Monday will bring a renewed concern for flooding.
Away from the coast, the weather won’t be terrible both Sunday and Monday. At times there will be rain, it will be breezy, but depending on Hermine’s exact track, there may even be breaks in the clouds, especially north and west of Route 1. I’m cautiously optimistic that Sunday might be a decent day all things considered in this part of the state. Heaviest rainfall will be confined to Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic and Ocean counties. Here, by the end of Monday, up to four inches of rain may fall, particularly in Cape May. North and west, rainfall totals will drop, to less than an inch in northwest New Jersey.
Coastal residents should prepare for a serious tropical storm event, on par impact-wise with a long duration nor’easter. For the rest of the state, periods of rain will hamper Labor Day weekend plans parts of Sunday and Monday, but the easterly track means that the weather will be more of a nuisance than anything else.
As Hermine spins a couple hundred miles off the coast through Tuesday and maybe into Wednesday, high surf, rip currents and coastal erosion will continue. By Thursday, the weather talk around New Jersey will be focused on a return to 90-plus degree temperatures.