MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — A late-winter storm inflicted new damage Thursday to parts of the Jersey shore still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy, as New Englanders braced for potential evacuations and coastal flooding.
The storm buried parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions with snow but barely laid a glove on Washington, D.C.
As the storm moved up the coast to New England, strong winds, heavy snow and power outages were expected.
In Mantoloking, N.J., the Jersey shore town hardest-hit by Sandy, pounding surf broke through a temporary dune during the early-morning high tide. The dune breach forced the closing of a major coastal highway.
Detective Stacy Ferris said the breach spanned three oceanfront properties, sending 3 to 6 inches of water flowing through onto the highway. As a result, officials closed portion of Route 35; the southern part of the borough remained open.
The state Department of Transportation, along with Mantoloking’s own public works crews and contractors, were busy scooping and pushing sand back into the breach to prepare for high tide, expected at about 3 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re going to plug that hole before the next high tide,” Ferris said.
Every one of the 521 homes in Mantoloking was damaged to some degree by Sandy. Many were completely destroyed and hundreds of others suffered major damage.
The storm’s no-show in Washington came after it pummeled the nation’s midsection Tuesday, killing at least five people in weather-related traffic accidents. More than 1,100 flights were cancelled Tuesday at Chicago’s two airports alone, and hundreds more were cancelled Wednesday in Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
The National Weather Service was predicting up to 7 inches of heavy, wet snow in southeastern Connecticut through Friday morning and wind gusts that could hit 50 mph. A coastal flood warning was in effect starting Thursday morning for east-facing shores in Massachusetts, with up to a 3-foot surge at high tide in some areas. Central Massachusetts was bracing for 4 to 8 inches of snow, while early predictions were that Boston would get less.
In the seacoast town of Scituate, about 30 miles south of Boston, emergency officials were setting up a shelter at the high school and preparing for three high tides during the duration of the storm. The first was expected at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“They are recommending that folks who live right on the coast to evacuate at least three hours before high tide,” said Mark Patterson, the town’s harbormaster.
“A lot of the concern has to do at this point with the wind direction and duration of the storm,” Patterson said.
“If the wind stays in the northeast for all three (high tides), that will drive the storm surge onto shore and that’s when we see coastal flooding and beach erosion.”