Dear New Jersey,
Here we go again. As spring turns into summer, it’s time to start looking towards the warming Atlantic for visitors from the tropics. Yes, hurricane season has begun, officially taking place every year from June to November.
As you know, hurricanes, tropical storms, tropical depressions, post-tropical cyclones and residual tropical rains pose an enormous risk to life and property. Unfortunately, it’s been an active few years (and decades) for tropical weather here in New Jersey. Names like Ida, Elsa, Isaias, Fay, Sandy, Irene and Floyd will forever be in our minds.
Despite our history of destructive tropical storms affecting the Garden State, I believe many residents are apathetic and indifferent to the potential of such a dangerous and life-altering climate. As we dive headfirst into the 2022 hurricane season, I wanted to share a few things that have been on my mind lately.
1.) New Jersey IS a hurricane-prone state. Usually, when you think of states that experience a lot of tropical weather, Florida and the rest of the Gulf Coast come to mind. And rightly so, given the number of direct landings in these hot states. However, New Jersey is a coastal state and by definition is also prone to large, nasty coastal storms. And let’s not ignore the potential for indirect impacts of storms, such as increased precipitation and rough surf, which seem to occur several times each summer. There’s a reason we take each of these threats seriously.
2.) It’s not just a Jersey Shore thing. Do you remember Tropical Storm Isaias, which passed through New Jersey in early August 2020? What a bad weather day. More than 7 inches of rain in Salem County. A 75 mph gust of wind recorded in Ocean County. And two tornadoes hit parts of Cape May and Ocean counties. More than 1.3 million New Jersey residents lost power during the storm. A wide range of severe impacts, both for coastal areas and NJ interior. While Sandy (2012) caused historic storm surges and tidal flooding, Irene (2011) and Floyd (1999) were characterized primarily by inland freshwater flooding.
3.) Three big concerns about hurricanes: water, wind, waves. The holy trinity of tropical impacts. They are all equally valid and dangerous. Each storm has its own “personality” based on its path, size, strength and organization. When developing an ever-changing tropical storm forecast, we absolutely must keep the three dangers in mind. (And we’re trying to rank which will be the most precarious and impactful, so you can prepare accordingly.)
4.) Never underestimate the power of tropical humidity. Ida was an incredible storm. On the evening of September 1, 2021, over 9+ inches of rain flooded central and northern New Jersey. But Ida wasn’t even a “tropical” system at the time, having made landfall as a hurricane three full days earlier in Louisiana. Nearly 72 hours on land, and the storm still had just as much moisture locked in its circulation. The flooding, property damage and loss of life here in New Jersey has been truly catastrophic. In a sense, terms like remains and post-tropical storm and extra-tropical storm are dangerous because they minimize the potential for heavy rainfall. Just because it’s not technically a “hurricane” doesn’t mean a storm can’t be catastrophic.
5.) Simple planning now will make a big difference later. I don’t want to be too preachy about safety and hurricane preparedness. But it amazes me how Everytime a big storm is looming, people are making a mad dash to the stores for basic supplies. Batteries, flashlights, bottled water, bread and milk. May I suggest taking a few minutes now to make sure these items are well stocked and easy to find in your home? Those who live in coastal floodplains should also discuss an evacuation plan, in case a worst-case storm occurs.
Finally, please know that I take our coverage of any impending tropical storms very, very seriously. Our top priority throughout the Townsquare New Jersey Information and Weather Network is to provide timely, accurate and (most importantly) honest forward-looking information. Both on air and online. As Chief Meteorologist and Steward of this weather brand, I have zero tolerance or patience for any storm hype or misinformation.
Thanks as always for following. Hoping for a nice calm hurricane season.
Certified Broadcast Meteorologist
Dan Zarrow is chief meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. His fascination with the atmosphere began tracking hurricanes when he was 11 years old. Follow Dan on Facebook or Twitter.
TIPS: Here’s how you can prepare for power outages
WATCH: The costliest weather and climate disasters of decades
Damage from Hurricane Ida in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Relief efforts are now underway for the entire region.