Remnants of Gordon To Unleash Heavy Rains to Garden State
Monday marks the statistical peak of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and activity has significantly ratcheted up in the region. After the season began with five storms that were subtropical in origin, much of August was rather quiet. There were only two named storms during most of the month.
Then, in the final 36 hours of the month, Florence began to emerge as Potential Tropical Cyclone Six. It would eventually develop into a tropical storm, then a hurricane, and a major hurricane. Early on Florence appeared to be on track to be a fish storm, but that would change, and now it could be a threat for the East Coast as a major hurricane later this week.
During the initial stages of Florence’s development, Gordon began to emerge as Potential Cylcone Seven in the Caribbean near the Southern Bahamas, the tip of South Florida, and Cuba. A little over 15 hours later, PTC 7 became Tropical Storm Gordon. Conditions were hostile toward development, but Gordon still managed to come quite close to becoming a hurricane.
Gordon still fell short of its goal of becoming the fourth hurricane of the 2018 season, but came ashore just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border with winds of 70 miles per hour and a minimum central pressure of 997 millibars, or 29.44 inches of Hg (Mercury). The storm produced rough conditions over Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach in Alabama. The big story with this storm would be the rain though.
While it brought some storm surge to the Central Gulf Coast, Tropical Storm Gordon produced anywhere from 4 to 8 inches in the Western Florida Panhandle, Southwest Alabama, Southern and Central Mississippi, Northeastern Louisiana, and Southern Arkansas with isolated locations receiving about a foot of rain. This would spread into the Midwestern United States, and eventually into Ohio and Pennsylvania.
By this time, Gordon had weakened to a remnant low, but still was producing copious amounts of rainfall. Earlier this weekend, rainfall amounts across Ohio and Pennsylvania were as much as 4 to 5 inches in a span of 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Garden State has been going through a tumultuous period of weather itself over the past two weeks. Heat and humidity that has not been seen in this area for over five years.
Temperatures soared into the 90s for much of the week before Labor Day with dew points into the 70s. It was a dangerous combination that produced Heat Advisories and Warnings. Heat indices soared over the 100 degree mark as the first games of the 2018 high school football season were taking place across New Jersey. I was at a few of those games and a couple pre-season scrimmages myself on August 29th and 30th. The conditions were quite honestly, very brutal.
There would be a break in the action starting on Friday when clouds and rain moved in. As a front slowly approached from the west, rain fell up north in places such as Morristown where Somerville was taking on Delbarton in its season opener. The rain lingered for a couple more hours, but eventually let up as Highland Park hosted Montclair Kimberley in its season opener on Friday evening in Middlesex County in Central Jersey. The front pushed through, and a cool breeze set in, but it would only be temporary.
The front stalled just off the Jersey coast, and eventually returned as a warm front by Sunday evening. By that time, I had traveled down to Long Beach Island to enjoy the Labor Day holiday. Upon arrival at my hotel, I could feel a nice breeze coming from the ocean, but it would let up, and gave way to heat and humidity that made things very uncomfortable on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in not only Ocean County, but also much of the rest of the Garden State. Temperatures would stay in the upper 80s to low 90s until Thursday.
Another front then came through on Thursday evening, and it pushed into the coastal towns of South Amboy and Old Bridge around 6:30 PM. Large and vast cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds could be seen approaching from Lombardi Field in Old Bridge and Waterfront Park in South Amboy. Gusty winds came through South Amboy as I drove up to Waterfront Park there. However, there was no rain, thunder, or lightning. Only strong winds developed. Stronger storms could be seen further to the north and east over Staten Island, Brooklyn, Coney Island, and New York City.
Rain would eventually come, but not until the late afternoon and early evening on Friday. Week one high school football games, many of which were season openers for schools in New Jersey, were played under a steady rain that began lightly, but increased somewhat in intensity. Clouds lingered through the day on Saturday, but the rain would not resume until Sunday as the remnants of Gordon approached. Gordon’s remains are coming along another cold front, and Flood Watches and Coastal Flood Warnings have been issued in New Jersey.
As of early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, New Jersey issued a Coastal Flood Warning for Coastal Monmouth and Ocean counties as well as areas along Delaware Bay. Middlesex County was also under threat by the possibility of minor road flooding in places such as Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Old Bridge, and South Amboy. In addition, Flood Watches were in effect into early Tuesday for Northern Delaware, Northeast Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Amounts ranging from one to three inches are possible in the areas under the watch.
The rains and abnormal tides from the remains of Tropical Storm Gordon could be just a tropical hors d’oeuvre for the Mid-Atlantic this week. As mentioned earlier, Florence is lurking in the Atlantic, and it is becoming more and more likely that the storm will not only re-energize into a major hurricane, but also make an impact along the Carolinas or Virginia by week’s end. Florence, which has been the only major hurricane in the Atlantic so far in 2018, has regained hurricane strength with 85 mile per hour winds, and a minimum central pressure of 975 millibars, or 28.80 inches of Hg.
The NHC’s forecast discussion from 5:00 PM EDT on Sunday afternoon indicated that Florence is expected to undergo a period of rapid intensification. By this time on Monday night, Florence is anticipated to become a Category Three Hurricane with 120 miles per hour. The storm is expected to continue strengthening and have 145 mph sustained winds by Tuesday evening. By the same time Wednesday, Florence may have 150 mile per hour winds before tapering off to 140 mile per hour winds some four days from now as it moves toward landfall.
In addition to Florence, there are two other named storms churning in the Atlantic this evening. Tropical Storm Isaac is nearly a hurricane with 70 mile per hour winds and 29.44 inches of Hg minimum central pressure, and is located about 1400 miles to the east of the Windward Islands. Isaac is expected to be a threat for the Caribbean over the next week or so. Further out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Helene, a minimal hurricane, just brought rain and wind to the Cabo Verde Islands, and is heading westward in the Eastern Atlantic. Helene is not anticipated to threaten any major land areas at this time.