By David Madden


PISCATAWAY, NJ (CBS) — As the region braces for the potential of a major winter storm this weekend, towns down the shore could be particularly hard hit.

It’ll be a nor’easter, which is bad enough. But add a full moon, and New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson at Rutgers suggests high tides will be 3 feet above the norm.

“And then on top of that will be waves that might go 10 feet or higher,” Robinson tells KYW Newsradio. “So you’re raising the water level and then putting waves on top of that water to serve as battering rams.”

There’ll be three critical high tides, two on Saturday and one Sunday morning. He expects serious beach erosion, along with moderate to severe tidal flooding on the barrier islands.

Robinson is not predicting conditions that could rival those of Hurricane Sandy. Then again. he says nor’easters can be more difficult than tropical storms or even hurricanes at times.

(credit: Dave Robinson)

(credit: Dave Robinson)

“They tend to stay around a little longer,” Robinson said. “What that does is push water into the back bays that’s unable to get fully out of those bays before the next high tide cycle comes in.”

All this means emergency managers in shoreline communities have to get ready now.

“We are prepared with our volunteers, our CERT members and what not, to man any of our shelters should they be necessary based on cold temperatures and potential power outages should this really develop into that major storm that they’re predicting,” said Scott Morgan, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for Cape May County.

He’s advising residents to keep one eye on the sky and the other on the weather forecast. Then again, many locals have been through the drill several times before.