How Bad Will Hermine’s Storm Surge Be in Your Neighborhood?
A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect for the Jersey Shore, from Sandy Hook to the Delaware Bay, as New Jersey prepares to feel Hermine's impacts starting Saturday.
New Jersey is now less than 24 hours away from feeling the rain, wind, and surf impacts of Hermine. So, the National Hurricane Center has upgraded the Tropical Storm Watch to a Tropical Storm Warning south of Sandy Hook. That includes coastal portions of Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem counties. The Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect from Sandy Hook to Rhode Island.
I want to focus on surf in this post, and specifically the surge aspect of the coastal forecast. It looks like storm surge is going to be a significant component of Hermine's wrath on the Jersey Shore. The technical definition of storm surge, according to the Glossary of Meteorology, is "a rise and onshore surge of seawater as the result primarily of the winds of a storm."
The National Hurricane Center launched a brand new tool just this year to pinpoint storm surge impacts, called the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map. For the first time ever, you can zoom down as far as your own neighborhood and street, to see what general surge category is forecast for your area: 1+ foot (blue), 3+ feet (yellow), 6+ feet (orange), or 9+ feet (red).
How does it work? The map uses a sophisticated model (PSURGE 2.0) that combines information about the storm with high-resolution elevation, coastline geography, and historical benchmark data. In my expert opinion, it is an amazing reference tool to estimate your personal susceptibility to water rise along New Jersey's oceanfront, back bays, and tributaries.
Here's a link, and some sample images I captured from the site...
Some additional tips as you click and zoom around the map:
* Technologically, the map is much easier to navigate and see on a desktop computer, than a mobile phone.
* I recommend clicking the "Inundation Layer Only" button under the map. It makes the colors on the map much easier to see.
* You have to blur your eyes a little bit when viewing this data. If your own house is colored blue (1+ foot), but your next-door neighbor appears yellow (3+ feet), you should probably prepare for the higher number.
* Note New Jersey's entire oceanfront is colored blue, suggesting at least a foot of surge for all Atlantic Ocean facing coastline.
* The areas with yellow shading will experience the worst surge, most of which can be found in the back bays of Atlantic and Cape May counties.
* As the lengthy disclaimer on the site explains, the Potential Storm Surge map offers great guidance. But don't take it as gospel - it's just a high-resolution forecast, that is subject to change as the storm's forecast evolves.
* I'm still looking for better comparisons, but this level of surge (generally 2 to 5 feet) is generally comparable to the January 2016 blizzard.
* The timing of the worst storm surge and highest water rise will occur at the twice-daily high tide.