Nasty nor'easter to hit N.J. with heavy rain, damaging winds, snow, ice

If you thought Monday was going to be an ordinary start to the work week, think again.

A nasty nor'easter is bearing down on New Jersey and is expected to strengthen during the late morning and afternoon, unleashing batches of heavy rain that could flood streets across New Jersey. The storm is already packing wind gusts as strong as 55 mph in South Jersey, strong enough to topple trees and power lines.

The late-January coastal storm -- which happens to be arriving on the one-year anniversary of the monster blizzard of January 2016 -- also is expected to deliver some wintry weather to parts of the region where temperatures will be hovering near the freezing mark. A few inches of snow, sleet and ice could accumulate in portions of Sussex County and in western Passaic County, posing the risk of hazardous roads, forecasters said.

In preparation for the powerful winds, Public Service Electric & Gas said it has extra repair crews on standby. And officials in some cities across the state are advising residents to secure outdoor furniture and trash bins to prevent them from blowing around and causing damage.

Earlier Monday morning, about 1,000 homes and businesses lost power in Atlantic County as strong winds hit that area, according to a report by the Press of Atlantic City. Thousands of power outages were also reported in Monmouth and Ocean counties, and strong winds also forced the cancellation of all rides on the Cape May-Lewes ferry on Monday. 

As of 9 a.m., the National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 45 to 55 mph along the New Jersey and Delaware coasts and said there were isolated areas with tree limbs blown down. 

Heavy rain on the way

With temperatures in most of North Jersey expected to remain in the mid- to upper 30s and South Jersey forecast to hit the mid-40s on Monday, most counties will get soaked with rain throughout the day.

The National Weather Service is projecting 1.5 to 3 inches of rain across most of the state, with the highest amounts in central and eastern areas. The caveat, as the weather service notes in its Monday morning forecast discussion, is uncertainty persists over where the rain, snow and ice mix will occur in the northern part of the state.

Although the rain is expected to be on the light side during the morning commute, it's expected to get heavier as the day goes on, posing potential problems for the evening commute. With gusty winds gaining strength during the day, commuters could be faced with wind-swept rain, forecasters said.

We're not quite out of the woods Tuesday, as the National Weather Service expects another shot of rain to blanket the area through Tuesday afternoon. Things finally dry out Tuesday night thanks to a high pressure system that will move into the region. Temperatures will be slightly above normal - from the upper 30s to the mid 40s. 

This map, updated by the National Weather Service on Sunday evening, shows the latest rainfall totals expected across New Jersey through Tuesday evening. Areas shaded in orange are projected to get 2 to 3 inches of rain. (National Weather Service) 

Warnings and advisories

Among the many weather warnings, watches and advisories in effect on Monday:

HIGH WIND WARNING: In effect for the entire New Jersey coast, along with Hudson County, Middlesex County, eastern Essex County, eastern Union County, New York City and Long Island. The wind warnings are effective at different times for different regions: 3 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday for Atlantic, Burlington and Cape May counties; 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday for Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties; 1 a.m. Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday in Essex, Hudson and Union counties.

WIND ADVISORY: In effect for Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Somerset and Warren counties from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and in Camden, Gloucester and northwestern Burlington from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.

FLOOD WATCH: In effect for a wide area stretching from north-central New Jersey southeastward toward Ocean County. A flood watch is also in effect in northeastern sections of New Jersey, as well as on Long Island, N.Y. 

COASTAL FLOOD WARNING: In effect from 2 p.m to 11 p.m. on Monday in coastal areas of New Jersey, from Middlesex County down to Cape May County. Areas of minor flooding are expected with high tide this morning and moderate flooding is expected with the high tides in the afternoon and evening.

Update: Atlantic County officials continue to monitor roadways for minor tidal flooding as a result of the coastal storm. They said Monday afternoon's high tide between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. may have the most impact as far as flooding in areas that typically have poor drainage. In Atlantic County that includes the Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City, the White Horse Pike between Atlantic City and Absecon, and Shore Road in Absecon. County officials are advising motorists to exercise caution and not to drive through flood waters. Some roads may be temporarily closed until water recedes, they noted. Residents who live in flood-prone areas should consider moving their vehicles to higher ground.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY: In effect for Sussex County from 11 am Monday to 11 am Tuesday. In effect for western Passaic County from 1 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday. Forecasters originally thought 4 to 6 inches of snow and sleet could accumulate in northwestern New Jersey, but the latest projections are for only 1 to 2 inches of snow and a thin layer of ice. Heavier snow is expected in northeastern Pennsylvania, where temperatures will be colder.

NJ Advance Media staff writers Jessica Beym and Jeff Goldman contributed to this report. Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. 

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