As Shore residents dealt with a hurricane warning, and , a meteorologist has said the worst of Hurricane Irene's wrath will come during the day on Sunday.
The monster storm has weakened just a bit, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Its winds have decreased from 115 to 105 m.p.h., but forecasters are secure in its track that will eventually bring it to New Jersey. The hurricane center released an advisory at 11 a.m. Friday stating that computer models are now in "good agreement" on Irene's path.
"The worst of the impacts at the Jersey Shore are going to be from 6 a.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Sunday," said Meteorologist Steve DiMartino, of NYNJPAWeather.com. "We're looking at a storm surge of anywhere from 4 to 8 feet everywhere along the New Jersey coast."
That storm surge – a wall of water the hurricane will push onshore – will be the primary driver of coastal flooding, DiMartino said. The storm surge, moreso than the wind, is a reason why residents of barrier islands should heed calls to evacuate.
"If you say, 'I'm not going to evacuate and I'll ride it out,' you better be prepared to move to a higher level," DiMartino said. "You are going to have water coming in to your home."
DiMartino said sustained winds will remain between 75 and 100 m.p.h. when the storm affects the region. But despite the fact that Irene will pack a strong punch, DiMartino is predicting that it will lessen in intensity by the time it reaches Ocean and Monmouth counties.
"The one positive is that, in theory, the hurricane will be weakening as it moves north," said DiMartino, noting that Cape May County will feel the brunt of Irene's power. "By 2 p.m. [Sunday], the hurricane will be north of [Ocean and Monmouth counties], and the winds will be coming out of the northwest. That will drive water out of the bays."
At 11 a.m. Friday, Irene was 630 miles south of Cape May, according to the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly. All of New Jersey's coastal counties remained under a Hurricane Warning, meaning that hurricane conditions were forecast within 36 hours.
The latest National Weather Service advisory called for 6 to 12 inches of rain across New Jersey's coastal areas.
The following are suggested actions to be taken prior to arrival of a storm:
- Check battery-powered equipment such as radios and flashlights. Buy extra batteries.
- Secure outdoor objects that might become caught in the wind.
- Keep your car fueled should evacuation be necessary.
- Be aware of where evacuation routes are located.
- Stock up on non-perishable food items and water.
- Stay tuned to a local radio or television station for the latest National Weather Service advisories as well as instructions from local officials.
- Be familiar with the telephone number of your local Office of Emergency Management. The number for the Ocean County OEM is 732-341-3451.
Residents are urged not to enter flooded roadways.
Local emergency management officials have also provided a number of recommendations for emergency supply kits. The list of items to include is as follows:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers
Additional items to consider adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler's checks and change
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Check Patch.com for Hurricane Irene updates frequently throughout the weekend.