High winds rake Jersey shore as storm moves in

March 7, 2013 3:40:33 AM PST
A slow-moving winter storm arrived in New Jersey with strong winds that knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses Wednesday ahead of an expected snowfall of that should prove less serious than anticipated.

The real problem was the wind, which was gusting past 60 mph in many parts of the Jersey shore. In Stone Harbor, the wind blew off part of the roof of a condominium complex, and Ocean City advised residents to move their cars to higher ground in preparation for possible major flooding early Thursday morning.

The Stone Harbor Volunteer Fire Company said it responded to the Sanderling Condominiums, which it said sustained major damage. The building was evacuated and its utility service shut off. Authorities in Stone Harbor also shut down a major road through town because of fallen electrical wires and utility poles.

Long Beach Township advised residents of the Holgate and Brant Beach sections that their neighborhoods may flood around the time of Thursday's 5:45 a.m. high tide, and also suggested that they leave ahead of time on Wednesday.

Tom Humphrey was walking his dog, Doyle, along the inlet in Point Pleasant Beach, which suffered major damage in October from Superstorm Sandy. He lives on the second floor of a building whose first floor flooded during Sandy, but he was not afraid of the current storm.

"I prepared a little, taking all the stuff that was outside, inside," he said. "Hopefully we'll be fine."

Winds also brought down power lines near a Jersey Central Power & Light Co. substation in Lake Como that knocked out power to hundreds of homes in Belmar, as well as the Jersey shore town's elementary school and library.

Nearly 40,000 southern and central shore customers were without power as of 4:30 p.m.

Flooding was reported in Absecon, including the White Horse Pike, one of the three main routes into Atlantic City.

Workers using heavy equipment shored up beach barriers in Bay Head, where a large delivery of jetty boulders arrived Wednesday morning to help build a new sea wall. Crews in Toms River also hurriedly reinforced their dunes, which are really just loose piles of sand stacked up as high as possible to replace the dunes washed away by Sandy.

Toms River and Brick asked residents of low-lying or flood-prone areas to voluntarily evacuate on Tuesday, a day before the storm hit. Brielle and neighboring Manasquan did so on Wednesday, ahead of a 3 p.m. high tide that caused some concern.

Winds raked the beachfront in Point Pleasant Beach, blowing drifts of sand onto Ocean Avenue, and shredding the decorative entrance canopy at a hotel across the street from the beach.

The National Weather Service said rain was expected to change to snow toward Wednesday night. But late in the day Wednesday, the agency reduced its previous forecast of 2 to 4 inches in much of the state to just 1 or 2 inches by Thursday.

The snow will be heavy and wet, which is likely to bring down trees or limbs, resulting in power outages, the weather service said.