Hurricane Jose Still Expected to Brush Past NJ Next Week
While not a direct hit, concern in New Jersey remains high for rough surf, coastal flooding, and rain/wind impacts from Jose.
Good Saturday morning, New Jersey. The consensus forecast for Jose's track hasn't changed much since last we spoke. Yes, the storm wiggled to the east (the out-to-sea direction) slightly — possibly enough to spare us from the rain and some wind — but it's not enough to pull New Jersey totally out of the area of concern.
As expected, the Hurricane Hunter aircraft found hurricane force winds late Friday, and so Jose was re-upgraded to a hurricane. The storm now sits about 750 miles south-southeast of Cape May, New Jersey with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
Good News and Bad News
The latest official forecast track is a good representation the consensus model forecast, paralleling the U.S. East Coast AND weakening Jose to a tropical storm as it enters the cooler ocean waters off our coastline.
The good news: There is still no evidence the storm will make landfall upon or directly impact New Jersey. The anticipated weakening trend is also very promising.
The bad news: I estimate the center of the storm will pass about 150-175 miles east of New Jersey. The storm currently has a radius of approximately 200 miles (diameter = 400 miles across). That means we could still see some weather impacts. And that's definitely close enough for surf impacts.
No change, still thinking the worst of the storm will be centered on Tuesday. Our conditions could go downhill as early as late Monday night, and may not improve dramatically until sometime Wednesday.
My gut is telling me that Tuesday is just going to be a yucky day in New Jersey, especially along the Jersey Shore. Cloudy, somewhat cool, and very humid.
At best, breezy (20 mph). At worst, gusty (50+ mph). That could be enough to bring down vulnerable trees and cause sporadic power outages.
Maybe some rain too. If Jose's rain bands do reach us, it could come down heavily for a time. Rainfall totals could top a half-inch to an inch. However, widespread torrential rain and flash flooding is not expected given the current off-shore forecast.
On the other hand, issues along the Jersey Shore are practically definite at this point. We're already seeing rough surf, rip currents, and higher water levels. (My brother-in-law Bill reported water over the docks in the Manahawkin lagoon during Friday evening's high tide cycle, and there's much more to come.)
The WaveWatch3 model is still pumping out 6 foot breakers, with 12 foot waves just off-shore. That's not terrible, but the beaches will certainly take a beating. Obviously, you don't want to go for a swim in the ocean any time soon. A Moderate Risk of rip currents is posted for Saturday, and I have no doubt that will become a High Risk as the storm moves closer.
Meanwhile, we're now getting a sense of the storm surge potential. Remember the equation: Astronomical Tide + Storm Surge = Water Levelt. Models suggest 2 to 3 feet of surge, on top of a higher than usual astronomical tide due to Tuesday night's New Moon. Yes, there will be coastal flooding, likely in the minor to moderate range. But such a level isn't too terrible, akin to most wintertime nor'easters that pass by New Jersey.
The highest high tide cycles (and therefore biggest threat of tidal flooding) will occur Tuesday morning and Tuesday evening.
It's easy to visualize how bad this might be in your backyard or neighborhood. Look at the water level during this evening's high tide cycle — 5 p.m. along the oceanfront, and 2 to 3 hours later along back bays and tributaries. Add 2 to 3 feet. That's is the most likely scenario on Tuesday.
Keep in mind, there tidal predictions are highly sensitive to the exact position, orientation, size, and strength of the storm. If we see a significant shift in Jose's forecast, these tidal predictions may swing wildly as well (higher or lower).
Watches and Warnings
There imare no watches or warnings issued for Jose right now, but the impending 48-hour milestone is an important one. It will be interesting to see if and where the National Hurricane Center posts Tropical Storm Watch later Saturday.
Do I think we'll see a watch issued for the Jersey Shore? No. But keep an eye on the North Carolina coast and parts of New England — because they may end up closer to the center of the storm, they may ultimately experience fiercer impacts.
By the way, as of Saturday morning, there are two additional areas of concern in the "hurricane corridor" between Africa and the Caribbean Sea. Both Tropical Depression 14 and a tropical wave may strengthen and become upgraded at some point this weekend. It's still way to early to determine whether these storms will threaten the U.S. East Coast.
The next names on the 2017 Atlantic hurricane list are Lee and Maria.
I'm calling this a "close call" forecast, because if Hurricane Jose wiggles 50 miles in either direction the forecasted impacts could change significantly. In this weather blog post, I've tried to parlay the fact that Jose should be taken seriously. But it's far from the worst storm threat New Jersey has faced, even in recent memory.
Perhaps if you live along the coast, in an area particularly vulnerable to tidal flooding, you should take some preparation steps this weekend. Tie down or take out the boat, bring in or secure patio furniture, and stock up on beverages.
For most of New Jersey, staying calm and informed is your best tactic right now.
Next weather blog update scheduled for Sunday morning. (Or find me on social media for all the "play by play" action.)