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Tropical Storm-Force Winds, Flooding for Ocean County Forecast As Strong Storm Approaches

Wind gusts expected between Jan. 9-10, 2024, mainly overnight. (Credit: NWS)

Wind gusts expected between Jan. 9-10, 2024, mainly overnight. (Credit: NWS)

Ocean County was under a flood watch and high wind warning, both issued by the National Weather Service, as a powerful storm system was poised to move into the region Tuesday.

The worst of the storm was forecast to arrive Tuesday evening around 6 p.m. and last through the night, the NWS said. Winds could reach sustained speeds of 35-45 m.p.h. during the height of the storm, with some gusts possibly eclipsing 60 m.p.h. Meanwhile, flooding concerns were growing due to saturated grounds being inundated with up to 3-4 inches of additional rainfall, notwithstanding tidal flooding that already began in a minor fashion Monday night.

The flood watch is in effect from 1 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Wednesday, as of the time of publication. The high wind warning is in effect from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. Wednesday.

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“Rainfall of 1 to 3 inches is possible later [Tuesday] and tonight, with the heaviest rain falling later [Tuesday] afternoon and this evening. The ground remains very saturated following multiple rounds of heavy rainfall over the last month,” the watch statement said. “A period of higher hourly rainfall rates is possible tonight which would enhance the potential for flooding, particularly in the urban areas. Tidal inundation combined with runoff in coastal areas may significantly elevate the flood risk, especially if occurring during times of high tide.”

As for the high wind warning: “Southeast winds will increase during [Tuesday] and become stronger later this afternoon,” the warning statement said. “The damaging winds are expected to occur this evening, and these could be locally enhanced with a narrow line of intense showers later tonight.”

Southeast to south winds 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 65 m.p.h. are expected. The sustained wind speeds are forecast at tropical storm strength, at a minimum of 39 m.p.h., and the gusts are equivalent to a more powerful tropical storm. Hurricane-strength winds begin at 74 m.p.h. according to the standarized Saffir–Simpson scale.

“People should avoid being outside around trees,” the warning statement said. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.”

Offshore, seas will build to 10 to 15 feet during the day, growing to 14 to 19 ft after midnight and into Wednesday morning, the NWS marine forecast said. Gale warnings – a step ahead of a small craft advisory – were in effect for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The NWS forecast calls for rain to begin after 11 a.m. Tuesday, with a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of rain falling during the daytime hours. Overnight, heavy rain will inundate the region until at least about 3 a.m., with another 2-inches of rainfall possible.

The storm is expected to move through the region relatively quickly. Wednesday will see a “slight chance of showers before 1 p.m.,” the NWS said said, with clouds giving way to mostly sunny skies with a high near 50. It will remain breezy, however, with a west wind 20 to 25 m.p.h., with gusts as high as 40 mph.

A pleasant day Thursday may give way to yet another coastal storm that is being tracked Friday night into Saturday, though it is not expected to be as strong as the Tuesday-Wednesday system.

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