Winds, Flooding Expected for New York and New Jersey

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People walk past debris in the area where a 2000-foot section of the "uptown" boardwalk was destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Sandy with the Showboat Casino in the background in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Damaging winds and coastal flooding that may tie up air traffic and hinder recovery efforts are forecast from Delaware to Massachusetts, including New York City and parts of New Jersey that were battered by Hurricane Sandy last week.

Gusts as intense at 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour may sweep across New York and New Jersey tomorrow, where cleanup operations following Sandy are still under way, as a new storm arrives, according to the National Weather Service. Flooding along the coast is expected from Delaware north to Connecticut, including New Jersey and Long Island, where tides may rise as much as 3 feet (1 meter) above normal.

“It just looks like the worst of the storm for the Northeast is going to be coastal New Jersey, the city and southern Long Island,” said Rob Carolan of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. “The wind may cause some issues with weakened trees coming down and with power lines that had just been repaired.”

Sandy struck the U.S. and Caribbean last week, killing at least 177 people, according to the Associated Press. The storm’s punch was particularly hard on New York and New Jersey, where about 8.5 million homes and businesses were without power at its peak and $10 billion to $20 billion in insured damage may have been done, according to Hiscox Ltd., the biggest Lloyd’s of London insurer by market value.

Flight Delays

Sustained winds from the nor’easter may reach 20 to 25 miles per hour with gusts as high as 35 to 45, said Lauren Nash, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York. When the storm is at its peak late tomorrow, some gusts may reach 65 mph, she said.

“The strongest winds will be on the coastal areas and eastern Long Island,” Nash said.

The wind may cause delays at airports throughout the Northeast by limiting which runways can be used, said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.

Almost 1 million electricity customers in the Northeast were still without power today, the Energy Department said. The storm has the potential to delay restoration efforts and may even bring about more blackouts, according to a statement from Consolidated Edison Inc., which provides service to New York City and Westchester County.

More Losses

“Even in a best-case scenario, I think it will prove disrupting to the recovery efforts and may spread some of the outages into southern New England,” Salmon said. “Our electrical system all over this country is fragile.”

Salmon said initial repairs after a storm are often just good enough to restore power. It remains to be seen if those restorations are strong enough to withstand the nor’easter.

Rain is expected to start falling in New York City after 10 a.m. tomorrow and continue for two days, according to the weather service. There is a chance light snow may mix in as well.

The nor’easter’s track along the U.S. East Coast has shifted in computer simulations, which may be good news for New England, Carolan said. However, it means New York and New Jersey will bear the brunt of this system.

A high pressure system over New England will deflect the storm further out to sea as it passes Rhode Island and Massachusetts after making its closest approach near Atlantic City, New Jersey, he said.

It will be “like a billiard ball” that hits the system and bounces “right out to sea,” Carolan said.

Possible Shift

People shouldn’t drop their guard because the models could still shift the storm closer to the coast, said Nick Vita, a meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Since a lot of the dunes and other barriers were damaged, destroyed by Sandy, there will not be much to hold the water back,” Vita said in an e-mail interview. “But flooding is not expected to be nearly as bad.”

Storm surge across the region, including Staten Island and Manhattan, is expected to be in the 2.5 to 4 foot range, Nash said.

Brick Township, on the New Jersey Coast, issued a mandatory evacuation order in waterfront areas and urged residents whose homes elsewhere were damaged by Sandy to leave, according to a notice on the town’s website.

A more easterly track may help keep temperatures for much of the U.S. East Coast 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.4 Celsius) below normal through the rest of the week, according to Commodity Weather’s president, Matt Rogers.

Lower-than-normal temperatures can spur more energy use as people turn up thermostats to heat homes and businesses.

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