A major coastal storm bringing snow, sleet, rain, strong winds will likely cause coastal flooding along the Jersey Shore Thursday.
As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a "Winter Storm Warning" for the Ocean County area which will be in effect from 7 p.m. Wednesday evening until 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
In addition, a "Coastal Flood Advisory" has been issued from 5 a.m, Thursday morning until midnight on Friday.
Weather forecasters are starting to reach consensus on the eventual track of this coastal storm. However, even the slightest change in direction, speed or intensity can have a huge impact on weather conditions, so the potential still exists for considerable change to the forecast, forecasters say.
Based on current forecast, the National Weather Service and local officials say the following weather events are expected in the Ocean County area:
1. Snow should start by midnight Thursday with it continuing until roughly 6 a.m. Thursday morning. There could be an inch or two of snow accumulation during this time period.
2. The Thursday morning rush will be sloppy and messy as most likely roads will be snowy and icy. Also, moderate snow and sleet will greatly reduce visibility.
3. Snow should slowly change over to a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain during Thursday morning. Also, there is a possibility of the wintry mix changing to just plain rain during Thursday afternoon, before switching back to sleet and snow Thursday evening.
4. Snow and sleet Thursday evening should end as a period of all snow prior to sunrise Friday morning.
5. Winds will increase Wednesday night and, by Thursday morning, will be sustained at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. These strong winds combined with the wintry mix of precipitation will lead to the real possibility of power outages.
6. Minor coastal flooding will occur along the bayfront and lagoon areas of both towns with the high tide cycles ofThursday morning and Thursday evening.
Residents should move their vehicles and other property to higher ground if needed. There does exist the potential of moderate coastal flooding in isolated areas so waterfront residents should be guided accordingly.
Again, this is a complicated weather forecast as the exact track and intensity of the storm will determine how much winter weather the Ocean County region will experience.
Even a 25 mile change in storm track could have a huge impact on weather conditions in the area. At this time, snowfall estimates are in the range of 1 to 4 inches, with the highest amounts in the western part of both townships.
Residents are urged to monitor weather forecasts and to take the necessary preparations and precautions required for a significant coastal winter storm.