Officials in Ocean County are beginning to prepare for the effects of Hurricane Sandy as the latest forecast track of the storm suggests the Shore area could see a significant – if not a direct – impact from the storm.
The National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. forecast update Thursday night showed the storm tracking directly toward the Ocean County area, though a wider forecast window showed the storm could make landfall anywhere between North Carolina and New England after making a sharp northwest turn sometime Sunday.
Forecasters, in the 5 p.m. update, did leave the door open to a wider northwesterly turn, which would bring the storm closer to New England.
The storm would be considered "posttropical" by the time it is expected to reach New Jersey, though it could still pack winds that could reach near hurricane strength.
Ocean County Emergency Management officials said they were keeping close tabs on the storm's progress Thursday afternoon, and residents were being advised to monitor media reports.
"If the forecast holds true, we expect to see flooding, downed trees and scattered power outages," said Chief Michael G. Osborn of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department.
Osborn said flooding could be heightened by Monday night's full moon.
The Long Beach Township Police Department encouraged residents to "engage in preparedness activities," according to a post on its Facebook page.
"If the storm track remains as forecast, the area may experience extremely heavy rain, very strong winds and major coastal flooding," the department said in its advisory to locals.
The New Jersey State Police were urging residents to prepare for the storm.
That agency, on its Facebook page, advises that:
"There is the potential for a very powerful and dangerous autumn storm to affect our region early next week. This storm will be associated with what is currently Hurricane Sandy.
The National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly issued a briefing package on the storm Thursday afternoon.
The executive summary of the briefing package is included below.
• Potential continues for a very dangerous autumn storm system to affect the region early next week.
• This storm will be associated with what is currently Hurricane Sandy.
• This storm, if it moves toward us, will bring multiple threats to the region:
• Strong damaging wind gusts
• Extremely heavy rainfall
• Major flooding along streams and rivers
• Major coastal flooding (full moon occurs on Oct. 29)
• The eventual track of this storm will determine the area which is impacted.
This far out in time, forecasters said, there is considerable uncertainty with the storm track. However, the likelihood of the storm affecting the region has increased over the past 24 hours."