Some flooding possible today in O.C.
Weekend winds were not as strong and precipitation not as heavy as expected
Moderate flooding is forecast for today in downtown Ocean City as Hermine, possibly returning to hurricane strength, churns offshore. But otherwise, the beach town escaped the storm unscathed, officials said.
“We were very fortunate,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. While high tides could rise a couple of feet above normal, “it’s at a level where I think we’ll be fine,” he said.
High tides reached “minor” flood levels at the Ocean City inlet Sunday, at about 4 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Tonight’s high tide about 10 p.m. could rise as much as a foot and a half higher than that, the weather service forecasts.
Meteorologists had previously predicted severe flooding was possible by today. Forecasts had warned of the possibility of 65 mph gusts and 5 inches of rain. Gov. Larry Hogan called in the Maryland National Guard on Saturday as Ocean City faced a tropical storm warning.
But winds were not as strong and precipitation not as heavy as they expected, with gusts toward the northeast peaking at 40 mph and only about half an inch of rain, according to the weather service.
“The storm itself is tracking a little farther offshore than it was forecast to do,” said Mike Rusnak, a meteorologist in the weather service’s Wakefield, Va., forecast office. “The effects are not as great.”
Hermine was about 340 miles east of Ocean City by Sunday evening, far enough that sunshine broke through the clouds as crews cleared the boardwalk of sand. Beaches remained closed to swimming because of rough surf and strong rip currents.
But the storm could still swing back closer to the Mid-Atlantic shore, expected to move to the north and northwest overnight and through today. It is a “somewhat unusual” forecast for a storm originating in the tropics, said John Gresiak, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com who noted that Hermine has technically become what is known as a post-tropical storm.
“We just don’t have anything in the atmosphere to really push it along for the next couple of days,” Gresiak said.
The National Hurricane Center predicted that Hermine could regain hurricane force today as it spins off the Delmarva Peninsula and New Jersey coast. Still, it is expected to stay far enough from shore that it won’t drop any more rain on Atlantic beaches on the Labor Day holiday.
Tropical storm-force winds were possible in New Jersey today. Gov. Chris Christie warned that minor to moderate flooding was still likely in coastal areas and said the storm could cause major problems.
Hermine caused two deaths, inflicted widespread property damage and closed beaches as far north as New York. The storm left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity from Florida to Virginia.
In Ocean City, Meehan said businesses reopened and activity picked up as the skies cleared Sunday. He estimated the crowd in town, typically as much as 300,000 strong during holiday weekends, was at about 80 percent of normal.
The Ocean City Beach Patrol will continue to monitor conditions to determine when it’s safe for swimmers to get back in the water. With no damage or injuries reported from the storm, “we want to keep it that way,” Meehan said.