Hurricane Joaquin Tracks Away From NJ, But Expect Flooding and Winds
Confidence is growing that Hurricane Joaquin will turn away from the U.S. East Coast, but some dramatic indirect impacts are still expected for New Jersey.
The Latest on Joaquin
Hurricane Joaquin remains an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph. The storm continues to pummel the central Bahamas.
That track is really good news for New Jersey. Starting yesterday morning, forecast confidence began steadily improving... And I'm happy to say that the *most likely* track for Joaquin now takes the hurricane out to sea, without any direct impact or landfall on the U.S. East Coast.
However... (Isn't there always a however...) There are still a few model solutions that still show a more westward track. The NAM model shows a landfall near the Carolinas. The GFDL hurricane model comes uncomfortably close to the Jersey Shore on Monday. And about 5 of the 50 members of the Euro ensemble still show a U.S. landfall.
To be clear - the vast majority of our forecast models are showing a Hurricane Joaquin storm track well east of New Jersey. I am about 90% confident these outlier models tracks are just junk, mostly because of how quickly the models shifted yesterday toward the off-shore, out-to-sea solution. But as an honest forecaster, I have to keep that tiny hesitation in the forecast. I think it's still important for everyone in New Jersey to keep an eye on the latest weather details this weekend, just in case things shift back again.
Coastal Flooding and Gusty Winds Still a HUGE Problem
Despite the off-shore track of Hurricane Joaquin, the next few days are still going to feature some wild weather and angry surf.
Minor coastal flooding already occurred on Thursday, and those conditions are expected to continue and worsen through the weekend. The cause is only indirectly related to Joaquin - any time there is a major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, we are sure to feel some effects. The main culprits for the increased swell and a stalled front and coastal storm system, combined with gusty northeast winds that will push water toward the Jersey Shore.
Moderate to major coastal flooding is likely for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday during the times of high tide. According to the National Weather Service's Coastal Flood Warning, 8 to 12 foot breaking waves are possible. Surge will push tidal water levels to upward of 3 feet higher than usual up and down the Jersey Shore. Road closures along the immediate coast will probably become necessary. And due to the rough surf and high water, beach erosion is likely.
Additionally, some very strong winds will begin to gust on Friday, and lasting through much of the weekend. Sustained winds will likely be in the 20 to 30 mph range, with gusts as high as 50 or 60 mph (especially along the coast). This may down trees, potentially causing road closures and power outages. Lawn furniture may become projectiles in the fierce wind. And driving may be difficult over bridges and near open fields, particularly for high-profile vehicles such as vans and trucks.
Finally, there's the rain. Persistent bands of heavy and/or steady rain is expected all day Friday. The heaviest rain will be thanks in large part to tropical moisture from Joaquin fueling a "Nor'easter-ish" coastal storm system. A couple of inches of rain will be possible statewide. And with temperatures in the 50s, it is going to be a very cold and uncomfortable rain.
Current Warnings, Watches, and Advisories
Your Weekend Forecast
Friday: Rain likely all day long, and could be heavy at times. Winds increase dramatically, sustained at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts to 50 or 60 mph. Moderate to major coastal flooding is expected along the Jersey Shore. Temperatures will stay in the 50s through the afternoon.
Saturday: A few showers will be possible, under cloudy skies. Winds again will sustain at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts to about 50 mph (especially along the Jersey Shore). Coastal flooding may again be a problem at the times of high tide. High temperatures will range from the upper 50s to lower 60s.
Sunday: Again, widely scattered showers will be possible. Clouds will still dominate the sky, but there could be a few peeks of sun throughout the day. Sustained winds will once again reach the 20 to 30 mph range, with occasional guests as high as 50 mph. Coastal flooding could continue. High temperatures will climb to the mid 60s.
Monday: As Joaquin moves further away, skies will slowly clear, winds will calm, and temperatures will warm. Mostly to partly cloudy skies, with winds up to 25 mph. Highs in the mid 60s.