MANTOLOKING, N.J. (CBS/CNN/AP) — The coastal storm heading for the East Coast could take a chunk out of New Jersey beaches that are still being repaired following damage from previous storms.
And there’s no guarantee that all the sand that washes away over the next few days will be replaced.
Things are calm Thursday night along the seawall in Brigantine, but emergency officials are preparing for a serious wind event Friday.
“The fire department has personnel ready to go. Our officers are ready. Public Works is ready,” said Chief Jim Bennett, with the Brigantine Police Department. “This is not going to be a Jonas or Sandy-level event. Even if we get major flooding it’s still not going to be to the level of either of those storms.”
Crews with Atlantic City Electric are being as proactive as possible because they expect Friday to be a busy one.
“We do ask customers to prepare for the possibility of outages,” said Frank Tedesco, with Atlantic City Electric. “We have our crews on standby. We have 24-hour coverage starting tomorrow morning throughout the weekend”
This nor’easter, like the one in January, could reach bombogenesis — or become a “bomb cyclone” — by dropping at least 24 millibars of atmospheric pressure in 24 hours. Some forecast models predict a sudden pressure plummet Friday evening off the Atlantic coast.
Even if this storm doesn’t “bomb out,” the coastal low will pack an incredible punch, with places from eastern Long Island in New York to Boston likely to get hit hardest.
With the moon full, the tide is at its highest point of the month. On top of that, the storm’s surge could drive 3 to 4 feet of water into coastal neighborhoods. Along the shore, wave heights will be 4 to 8 feet, breaking along the shoreline and exacerbating flooding.
“Take this storm seriously! This is a LIFE & DEATH situation for those living along the coast, esp those ocean-exposed shorelines; moderate to major flooding; locations becoming inundated, cut off for periods of time; expect structural damage, homes destroyed,” the National Weather Service in Boston tweeted.
Because this system will be a slow mover, its wind, rain and flood impacts could be felt for days. Areas along eastern Long Island and eastern Massachusetts could get 4 to 5 inches of rain from Thursday evening through Saturday. The rest of the region could see 2 to 4 inches of rain.
Any snow that falls in that zone would be heavy and wet, likely to bring down trees and power lines and cause power outages.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is widening three beaches: Mantoloking, Brigantine and Longport, just south of Atlantic City.
None of those projects are finished.
Army Corps spokesman Steve Rochette said the agency surveyed the beaches before the storm that’s expected to bring heavy rain and intermittent snow on Thursday and Friday. He said once it’s over the agency will determine how much repair work needs to be done.
“In some cases, we’ve pumped additional sand in areas under contract, but this would depend on many factors, including but not limited to, severity of storm event, contractual requirements and funding,” he said Thursday.
Sand pumping work on Mantoloking’s beaches, which is nearing completion, has been suspended as the storm approaches. A dredge ship that had been pumping sand ashore was sent to safe harbor in Jersey City, about 90 minutes to the north, and will return after the storm.
Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the storm was due to arrive, a bulldozer was moving sand around at a spot on the beach near where the ocean cut a channel through to the Barnegat Bay during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, slicing the barrier island in half. The Ocean County borough was one of the hardest-hit by Sandy, with virtually every one of its 521 buildings either damaged or destroyed by the storm.
Replenishment work is to start soon on other Jersey shore beaches, including on Long Beach Island.
Elsewhere along the coast, numerous coastal towns were using emails and automated call systems to urge residents to move their cars to higher ground, prepare for power outages, and to secure loose outdoor items. High winds are expected during the storm, including some scattered gusts of up to 60 mph.
Belmar had already finished shoring up its beaches with heavy equipment by mid-afternoon on Thursday.
Crews in the Philadelphia area are prepping for the storm–some could see some snow.
“If you’re from this area you know that March always has a little bit of a surprise for us,” said PennDOT spokesperson, Brad Rudolph.
March will kick with a wet and blustery start in and around Philadelphia and with that PennDOT crews are on standby to remedy road conditions where they can.
“High winds are going to affect visibility so conditions could be pretty bad out there and with a whole day of rain and precipitation I expect driving to be rather slow,” said Rudolph.
Unlike previous cases of snowfall that’s we have seen this season, preceding wet conditions won’t allow PennDOT to pretreat roads. While they are considering this as a possible “snow event”, the Department’s focus will be on rainfall.
“Each county manager on their highway system knows their flood-prone areas, they know which areas to check out,” Rudolph adds.
– NJ Transit planned to cross-honor tickets and passes on bus, rail and light rail systems on Friday.
– If you’re heading down the shore this weekend you can’t drive on the Townsends Inlet Bridge. The bridge is shut down because of flooding and wind concerns with the storm. We’re told the bridge will stay closed until sometime Sunday.
– The CRDA has authorized the Wave Parking Garage to provide free overnight parking for all Atlantic City residents from 5pm Thursday (3/1) through 8am Monday (3/5) in preparation for the impending coastal storm.
– Airlines were making their own preparations. Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, and American Airlines were allowing travelers to change their Friday and Saturday flights ahead of time to avoid delays and cancellations at key airports across the Northeast.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)