USA – East Coast Winter Storm Brings Flooding to New Jersey and Delaware

Winter storm Jonas has swept northwards along eastern USA, affecting over 80 million people.

The Nor’easter brought high levels of snowfall and winds up to 80 mph (130 kmh). At least 18 deaths, mostly from road accidents, have been blamed on the weather since Friday 22 January 2016.

According to NOAA figures of 24 January, 28.1 inches of snow was recorded at Newark Airport between 21 January to 24 January. JFK Airport saw 30.5 inches, La Guardia 27.9 inches and Central Park, NYC saw 26.8 inches.

States of emergency were declared in New York, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Coastal Flooding in New Jersey and Delaware

Although snow and strong winds have been the cause of most of the problems, the storm also brought some flooding to areas of New Jersey and Delaware. Very high tides had been predicted for the weekend, but water levels were increased by up to 3.5 feet (1 metre) or more by the strong winds of storm Jonas.

On 23 January, a NOAA statement said:

“Water levels are increasing or elevated from North Carolina to Massachusetts. Water levels from North Carolina to New York range from 2.0 to 3.5 feet above tidal predictions. Stations across southern New England generally are showing values of 1.5 to 2.0 feet above normal tide levels, with water levels over 2.6 feet above tidal predictions at Nantucket Island, MA. Winds are increasing from Connecticut northward and generally decreasing from New York southward. Barometric pressure is falling along the mid-Atlantic coast from Montauk, NY northward and rising at stations southward”.

US Coastal flood warnings, 23 January 2016. Image: NOAA
US Coastal flood warnings, 23 January 2016. Image: NOAA

By Saturday 23 January, flooding in New Jersey had been reported in Cape May, North Wildwood, Atlantic City, Sea Isle, Great Channel, Stone Harbor. Flooding was also reported in Barnegat and Ocean City where some evacuations were carried out.

In Delaware, Lewes suffered some of the worst of the flooding. Local emergency management officials in Sussex County said that around 50 people were evacuated in the small communities of Long Neck and Oak Orchard.

Floods in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Floods in Wildwood, New Jersey.Photo: North Wildwood Police Department

Meteorologist Gary Szatkowski said via Twitter that preliminary figures suggested that Cape May in New Jersey had experienced a record high surge of 8.9 feet on 23 January. He also said that Lewes, Delaware, across the mouth of the Delaware River from Cape May, reported a record high surge of 9.15 feet.

Beach Erosion

Not only do communities up and down the eastern coast face cleaning up the flood damage to their homes and businesses, the storm has also caused considerable damage to beaches and dunes.

Social Media – New Jersey and Delaware Coastal Floods, 22 to 24 January 2016