NJ nor’easter recap: Top 3 flood event for parts of Jersey Shore
Flood waters are receding, winds are subsiding, and rain is tapering off. I promised you a "nasty" day from this powerful coastal storm, and Mother Nature certainly delivered. During the peak of the storm Saturday morning, conditions ranged from "yucky" in North Jersey to downright "scary" along the Jersey Shore.
This is a "by-the-numbers" review of "The Nor'easter of October 2018". Just keep in mind that while the wind speeds, flood crests, and rainfall totals are compiled from trusted, official sources, they are generally preliminary and unconfirmed.
Photos from Around New Jersey
Was It a Nor'easter?
I only start with this point because I can already hear the internet trolls complaining that the storm "wasn't so bad" and "obviously wasn't a nor'easter"... Of course it was.
Here's a map of wind speed and direction from the NJ Weather & Climate Network during the peak of the storm. Classic northeasterly winds. A classic early season nor'easter.
60+ mph Wind Gusts
I said the wind and surf would be our major concerns, and I think that statement verified perfectly (especially along the Jersey Shore). Scattered power outages, downed trees, and displaced Halloween decorations.
The overall wind gust winner was 67 mph, reported 3 miles south of Seaside Park at 8:44 a.m. There were several 60+ mph gusts along coastal Ocean County.
Here are the top wind gusts by county across the entire Garden State:
--Atlantic... Atlantic City Marina (58 mph)
--Bergen... Lyndhurst (34 mph)
--Burlington... Moorestown (36 mph)
--Camden... Pennsaucken (37 mph)
--Cape May... Ocean City (45 mph)
--Cumberland... Millville (40 mph)
--Essex... no data available
--Gloucester... Logan Township (34 mph)
--Hudson... no data available
--Hunterdon... Kingwood (37 mph)
--Mercer... Hopewell Township (29 mph)
--Middlesex...New Brunswick (30 mph)
--Monmouth... Manasquan (58 mph)
--Morris... no data available
--Ocean... Seaside Park (67 mph)
--Passaic... Hawthorne (26 mph)
--Salem... Lower Alloways Creek Township (36 mph)
--Somerset... Hillsborough (23 mph)
--Sussex... High Point Monument (48 mph)
--Union... no data available
--Warren... Pequest (24 mph)
The wind also caused our first significant leaf fall of the season. I don't think it will be devastating to the trees or to our foliage season, luckily. There are now a lot of very wet, very slippery leaves on the ground. Be aware that may cause some traction problems on the road. And be aware, it's probably time to dig out the leaf blower and rake too...
Moderate-Major Coastal Flooding
Those ferocious east-northwest winds drove a lot of surf and ocean water toward the coast Saturday morning. For some tide gauges along the Jersey Shore, this ranked among the top flood events on record — behind a couple of storms you may be familiar with, named Irene and Sandy.
Along the Shark River in Belmar (the gauge is right under to the Route 35 bridge), the Shark River crested at 8.64 feet. That ranks as the third highest on record — above every wintertime nor'easter in 2016, 2017, and 2018, but below Tropical Storm Irene (8.91 feet) and Sandy (13.51 feet).
Watson Creek at Manasquan recorded its fourth highest crest at 7.81 feet, behind Irene (8.27 feet), a storm in the December 1992 (9.38 feet), and Sandy (12.32 feet).
Little Egg Inlet at Tuckerton will also place this storm (6.77 feet) in third place in the record books, behind the Blizzard of 2016 (6.97 feet) and Sandy (10.31 feet).
A few miles inland along the Absecon Creek in Absecon, the measured high tide level of 7.55 feet was only exceeded by Sandy (9.72).
Along the beach in Margate, the tide crest of 7.65 feet falls behind only Sandy (10.43 feet) and a storm in March 1962 (12.13 feet).
I think it's clear that, while the surge and coastal flooding from "The Nor'easter of October 2018" was impressive and historic, it was nowhere near as catastrophic as that of Superstorm Sandy. The ultimate example is Sandy Hook. Saturday morning, the Sandy Hook gauge peaked in the major flood category at 8.77 feet, about 3 feet higher than the previous day's high tide levels. Sandy crested at 14.40 feet on October 29, 2012. And that the last measurement recorded before the gauge broke.
Let's take a clockwise tour around the entire Jersey Shore. I've compiled a list of each tidal gauge with the water level peak and the associated flood category (None, Minor, Moderate, Major):
--Passaic River at Newark... 9.3ft (No flood categories)
--Arthur Kill at Perth Amboy... 9.24ft (Major)
--Raritan Bay at Keansburg... 8.88ft (Major)
--Atlantic Ocean at Sandy Hook... 8.77ft (Major)
--Shrewsbury River at Sea Bright... 7.94ft (Major)
--Shark River at Belmar... 8.64ft (Major)
--Watson Creek at Manasquan... 7.81ft (Major)
--Barnegat Bay at Mantaloking... 1.34ft (None, but still rising)
--Barnegat Bay near Bayshore... 2.27ft (Minor, but still rising)
--Barnegat Bay at Barnegat Light... 4.69ft (Moderate)
--Manahawkin Bay at Ship Bottom... 3.42ft (Minor)
--Little Egg Inlet at Tuckerton... 6.77ft (Major)
--Absecon Creek at Absecon... 7.55ft (Major)
--Absecon Channel at Atlantic City Marina... 7.91ft (Major)
--Atlantic Ocean at Atlantic City... 7.7ft (Moderate)
--Inside Thorofare at Atlantic City... 7.8ft (Moderate)
--Beach Thorofare at Margate... 7.65ft (Major)
--Great Egg Harbor Bay at Ocean City... 7.25ft (Moderate)
--Tuckahoe River at Tuckahoe... 5.42ft (None, but still rising)
--Ludlum Thorofare at Sea Isle City... 7.64ft (Moderate)
--Sluice Creek at South Dennis... 7.72ft (Moderate)
--Ingram Thorofare at Avalon... 6.24ft (Minor)
--Great Channel at Stone Harbor... 7.77ft (Moderate)
--Delaware Bay at Cape May... 8.39ft (Moderate)
--Maurice River at Bivalve... 8.36ft (Minor)
--Cohansey River at Greenwich... 7.93ft (Minor)
--Delaware River at Burlington... 7.81ft (None, but still rising)
--Assunpink Creek at Trenton... 4.44ft (None)
--Delaware River at Trenton... 10.11ft (None)
Even though floodwaters are generally receding, be sure to obey any road closures that may still be out there. It may take a few more hours (or even days) for all the water to return to the sea.
As we discussed in the days leading up to this coastal storm, heavy rain was likely but not our largest concern. The flash flooding threat was mitigated by our recent stretch of dry weather and a relatively dry ground.
Some locations overperformed and some underperformed the general "inch or two" rainfall forecast. The heaviest rain totals topped 2 inches, especially around Atlantic and Cape counties. While the rain made for a nasty damp day, it was clearly the least of our meteorological worries.
Rain observations for the storm will continue to come in through Sunday morning, but here's a quick list of the spots in the state that topped the 2 inch mark:
--Howell (Monmouth)... 2.51"
--Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic)... 2.42"
--Atlantic City International Airport (Atlantic)... 2.33"
--Cape May Courthouse (Cape May)... 2.33"
--North Cape May (Cape May)... 2.30"
--Woodbine (Cape May)... 2.30"
--Green Creek (Cape May)... 2.20"
--Goshen (Cape May)... 2.15"
--Holmdel (Monmouth)... 2.15"
--Middle Township (Cape May)... 2.15"
--Seaville (Cape May)... 2.15"
--Swedesboro (Gloucester)... 2.10"
--Berkeley Township (Ocean)... 2.08"
--Riegelsville (Warren)... 2.06"
--Dennis Township (Cape May)... 2.03"
--Barnegat (Ocean)... 2.00"
--Woodbine (Cape May)... 2.00"
The least amount of rain in New Jersey fell along the tippity-top of the state. Just 0.33" was recorded at High Point Monument (Sussex) and 0.65" at Hackettstown (Warren).
The only tidal flooding threat that remains this evening is along the Delaware River which, as of this writing, is still rising slowly. A Coastal Flood Advisory remains in effect from Trenton to the Commodore Barry Bridge until 6 p.m. Saturday.
Along the Atlantic Ocean, the next high tide is expected around 10 p.m. Saturday night. It is expected to be much closer to a normal tide level, with minimal flooding concerns along the oceanfront, back bays, and tributaries.
Out of an abundance of caution, and especially because the back bays are still running high, a Coastal Flood Advisory has been issued from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday for the risk of minor flooding.
The worst wind and rain are firmly behind us, with our weather continuing to improve as night falls. It may still be breezy (20 mph) through this evening, and I wouldn't rule out some drizzle until just after Midnight.
After such a dramatic weather day, I'm happy to say that the forecast for Sunday still looks great! We'll enjoy breaks of sun throughout the day with a light breeze. Models have come down on the high temperature a forecast a little — we'll be around 40 degrees Sunday morning and 55 degrees Sunday afternoon (5 to 10 degrees below normal for late October).
New Jersey's next chance for rain will be Sunday evening through Monday morning. Just a bit of rain — no flooding or wind concerns, I'm happy to say.
This concludes our nonstop nor'easter storm coverage. Special thanks to our news, traffic, digital, and programming teams for their diligence and assistance throughout this crazy, busy week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, New Jersey!