Santa is in for a harrowing ride when he visits the Shore area tonight. An incoming storm on Christmas Eve night is forecast to bring strong winds that will gust up to 70 m.p.h., leading the National Weather Service to issue a high wind warning for the region overnight, and numerous marine warnings for gale force winds and heavy seas.
According to the NWS forecast, the storm will move in mainly after 2 p.m. Thursday after a cloudy morning and midday with a high near 58 degrees. It will be breezy, with a south wind 20 to 25 m.p.h., with gusts as high as 40 m.p.h.
Rain, which may be heavy at times, will move in Thursday night. It will be “very windy,” the forecast said, with a south wind 30 to 40 m.p.h., with gusts as high as 70 m.p.h. A significant amount of rain – between 1 and 2 inches – is possible. The overnight low will be around 46 degrees. The graphic attached to this story represents wind speeds measured in knots, as is traditional with NWS forecasts.
“Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines,” a statement from the NWS said. “Widespread power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.”
The high wind warning will remain in effect on land until 7 a.m. Christmas morning (Friday). Offshore, a gale warning is in effect all day Thursday, and a more serious storm warning is in effect from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. overnight, with the marine forecast calling for seas running between 16 and 21 feet.
“Very strong winds will cause hazardous seas which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility,” the warning statement said. “Mariners should remain in port, alter course, and/or secure the vessel for severe conditions.”
Another half-inch or three-quarters of an inch of rain are forecast to fall Christmas Day. There will be steady rain before 7 a.m., then showers likely, mainly between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. with a high near 51 degrees. It will be breezy again, with southwest winds 20 to 25 m.p.h., with gusts as high as 40 m.p.h. There is an 80 percent chance of rain.
The storm will clear out by Christmas night, giving way to mostly clear skies during the nighttime hours. Saturday will be sunny with a high of 33 degrees.