While the snow piled up in the Washington region, the ocean raged on the coast. For three high tides, the storm known as Snowzilla thrust a hurricane-like surge of water into the coast, producing historic flooding.
At Cape May, N.J., the water level surged to 8.98 feet Saturday morning —the highest on record there, and major flood state. It broke the previous record of 8.9 feet set in Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The story was the same on the Delaware coast, where Lewes reached a new record water level of 9.27 feet, breaking the previous record of 9.20 feet set in 1962.
Keith Laudeman owns a popular Cape May restaurant called the Lobster House, and told the Jersey Tribune he had been preparing since Wednesday:
“This is worse than Sandy — I have more water now than then,” Laudeman said, adding that water started flooding around 3 a.m. — some areas flooded up to 18 inches. Cape May was not among the hardest hit areas in Hurricane Sandy.
“We did everything we could but the tide came up. I never saw this coming. I didn’t think it was going to be this bad,” Laudeman said.
“I knew we’d get something, but nothing like this. I’m marking this in my book as one of the worst I’ve ever seen,” Laudeman said.
In Delaware, winds gusted to 75 mph at Dewey Beach. Enormous swaths of the shoreline were washed out to sea, leaving cliffs of sand in their absence. Photos taken at low tide on Saturday suggest the beaches may have been eroded 12 to 15 feet deep.
In the days leading up to the storm, the National Weather Service warned of moderate to major flooding in coastal and back-bay areas of Delaware and New Jersey. They warned that numerous roadways could be flooded and inaccessible, and that powerful waves may significantly erode the beaches.
Photos below show the extent of the damage to the beaches as well as the inland inundation.
Bethany Beach, Del.
Major coastal beach erosion in Bethany Beach, DE. So sad, been going there every summer since I was a kid… pic.twitter.com/mk6GJY24Mj
— Alex Liggitt (@ABC7Alex) January 24, 2016
— Scott Broom (@scottbroom) January 23, 2016
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
— Patricia Talorico (@PattyTalorico) January 23, 2016
— Sean Greene (@SeanGreeneWDEL) January 24, 2016
Dewey Beach, Del.
Ocean City, Md.
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) January 23, 2016
— ABC7News (@ABC7News) January 24, 2016
Atlantic City, N.J.
Couple slight problems on Massachusetts Ave in Atlantic City: Trunk open and boats higher than the street. pic.twitter.com/a7oNBwjO42
— Jitney Guy (@JitneyGuy) January 23, 2016
Ocean City, N.J.
— Cecily Tynan (@CecilyTynan) January 23, 2016
— Cindy Nevitt (@ACPress_Nevitt) January 24, 2016
— Brian Logue Realtor (@BrianAtTheShore) January 23, 2016