The southern New Jersey shore got a scary sample of Hurricane Sandy on Sunday and will brace for the storm's full fury on Monday.
A massive storm with hurricane-force winds extending for 175 miles in each direction and tropical force winds reaching 520 miles, Sandy brought drenching rain, relentless surf and strong winds to the region as she crossed the Carolinas on Sunday.
On Sunday, the storm had sustained winds of 75 mph (just above the threshold of 74 mph that defines a Category 1 hurricane), but by the time the storm makes landfall sometime on Monday evening, it will no longer be considered a hurricane. Even as it possibly strengthens, the storm will meet a wintertime low-pressure system and take on the characteristics of a classic nor'easter.
The storm is expected to hit the coast somewhere in southern New Jersey — leaving central and northern New Jersey with the greatest potential for high winds and record storm surge.
In southern New Jersey, the greatest potential damage is expected to come with a morning high tide (8:27 a.m. on the bay side of Ocean City) when winds from Sandy will be strongest and in conjunction with an exceptionally high full-moon tide.
The region could see 6 to 10 inches of rain over the course of three days, 40 to 60 mph winds on Monday (with stronger gusts on the coast) and exceptionally high tides driven by the full moon and strong northeast winds.
If the storm hits to the north of Ocean City, the region could potentially see a shift in the winds that would help push water back out to sea for an evening high tide at 8:46 p.m.
On Sunday, even with the storm still hundreds of miles away, pounding surf ate at the region's beaches. Geotubes buried in a recent dune restoration project on the north end of Ocean City were exposed by the storm. Water flowed through the dune cuts at 59th Street, and on the bay side of Ocean City, waves flowed over the bulkheads at street ends.
The storm led to a call for a mandatory evacuation of all barrier islands in New Jersey and to the closing of schools and businesses throughout the region on Monday and Tuesday.
In Ocean City, sirens blared at 2 p.m. and announcements went out across public-address systems and reverse 911 calls calling for all residents to heed orders to leave the island by 4 p.m.
Ocean City transported people from Ocean City High School to shelters at schools in Upper Township and extended hours to 10 p.m. Sunday in an effort to encourage everybody to comply with the evacuation order.
Still, it appeared that many people decided to disregard the order and ride out the storm on the island. Few power outages were reported before midnight on Sunday.
Even with the worst of the storm yet to come, tide-level readings at the Bayside Center in Ocean City (Sixth Street and Bay Avenue) on Sunday evening exceeded those experienced during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The reading of 5.1 feet was a half-foot greater than Irene's 4.6 feet.
Flood levels are expected to be significantly higher on Monday — the threat that led emergency management officials to issue the mandatory evacuation order.