Even though the center of a big nor'easter is still over North Carolina late Monday morning, the storm is already generating powerful winds in parts of South Jersey and along the Shore in Monmouth, Ocean and Cape May counties.
"Winds are starting to pick up," said Mitchell Gaines, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's regional forecast office in Mount Holly. "We've already had wind gusts of over 55 miles per hour" as of 10 a.m.
Just one hour later, even stronger winds were whipping across the beaches along the Jersey Shore, including one gust of 63 mph recorded in Cape May.
Strong winds in Monmouth County caused a large maple tree to fall down onto a 2016 Subaru Forrester in Middletown Monday morning. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
In Middletown, winds were powerful enough Monday morning to topple a large maple tree that's believed to be about 200 years old. The tree fell onto an SUV.
Carleen Kierce, 68, said she was in her Middletown home about to drink her first cup of coffee shortly after 8 a.m. when she heard a strong gust of wind followed by a loud "whoosh."
Kierce, who lives in the Middletown Village Historic District, said she looked out her window and saw a large maple tree come crashing down. The tree lay across Red Hill Road -- and the back of her new 2016 Subaru Forrester.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought I was still sleeping," Kierce said by phone, as the roar of a chainsaw echoed in the background. "Then reality struck in. I said, 'Calm down. I'm not in the car, I'm in the house.' ... I'm just thankful. It could have been 100 times worse."
She said several Good Samaritans stopped their cars to assess the damage and make sure no one was injured.
"People stopped to see if someone was under the car," Kierce said. "I thought that was great."
In Long Branch, fire officials reported that winds ripped part of a roof off a building on Ocean Avenue, and they posted a photo on Twitter showing the damage.
Top wind gusts across N.J.
Here's a look at the strongest wind gusts reported across the state as of 10:40 a.m. (This list will be updated Monday afternoon. Additional gusts are included in the map below)
- Mullica Township: 55 mph- Atlantic City International Airport: 54 mph at 11:39 a.m.- Hammonton: 48 mph at 1:28 p.m.
- Lyndhurst: 45 mph- Teterboro Airport: 40 mph at 3 p.m.
- Columbus: 51 mph at 1:31 p.m.- Jobstown: 49 mph at 11:51 a.m.- Moorestown: 48 mph at 1:28 p.m.
- Pennsauken: 50 mph - Wissinoming: 50 mph at 9:05 a.m.
CAPE MAY COUNTY
- Cape May: 63 mph at 10:16 a.m.- Ocean City: 59 mph at 12:06 p.m.- Port Norris: 56 mph at 1 p.m.- Cape May County Airport: 53 mph at 12:51 p.m.- Woodbine: 51 mph at 1:30 p.m.- Upper Deerfield: 50 mph at 1:29 p.m.- Seabrook Farms: 50 mph at 11:30 a.m.
- Fortescue: 58 mph- Port Norris (7 miles west): 55 mph at 9:15 a.m.- Millville Airport: 48 mph at 8:53 a.m.- Alloway: 46 mph at 8:45 a.m.
- Newark Liberty Airport: 49 mph at 1 p.m.
- Jersey City: 47 mph
- New Brunswick: 31 mph
- Sea Girt: 59 mph- Manasquan: 56 mph at 7:10 a.m.- Long Branch: 56 mph at 1:20 p.m.- Long Branch: 47 mph at 6:05 a.m.- Wall (Allaire Airport): 49 mph at 12:50 p.m.
- Tuckerton: 60 mph at 12:06 p.m..- New Gretna (8 miles east-southeast of Burlington County): 58 mph at 1:03 p.m.- Lakehurst: 59 mph at 12:40 p.m.- Seaside Heights: 59 mph at 1:33 p.m.- Berkeley Township: 55 mph at 1:32 p.m.- Harvey Cedars: 55 mph- Lakehurst: 53 mph at 9:45 a.m.- Bass River State Park: 53 mph at 1:15 p.m.- Mantoloking: 52 mph at 11:06 a.m.
Note: The wind speeds above were reported by the National Weather Service and the New Jersey Weather & Climate Network at Rutgers University.
This map shows some of the strongest wind gusts recorded across New Jersey on Monday, Jan. 23, as of 1:55 p.m. (New Jersey Weather & Climate Network | Rutgers University)
Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Alex Napoliello may be reached at email@example.com. Find NJ.com on Facebook.