10:55 p.m. update: Storm conditions eased this evening along the Mid-Atlantic coast as Hermine drifted offshore about 235 miles east of Norfolk. However, a second round of storminess – which has the potential to produce stronger winds and more significant coastal flooding than the first – may sock the Delmarva and Jersey shores on Sunday or Sunday night.
— Ian Livingston (@islivingston) September 4, 2016
Hermine is expected to stall off the Mid-Atlantic coast Sunday and could even reverse back towards the shore a bit. If that happens, which is not a certainty, rain and wind would increase Sunday into Sunday night and even continue into Monday – though the exact timing is hard to pin down.
All the while, “the cyclone is expected to intensify to hurricane force Sunday and Sunday night,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. update, posted at 10:50 p.m..
If the storm backs towards the coast, significant coastal flooding would be possible during Sunday night’s high tide.
“While it`s possible some areas along the shore see a breaks in the sky cover and little rain tonight, do not be lulled into a false sense of security,” the National Weather Service office serving the Delaware and New Jersey beaches cautioned. “Hermine is a large storm system, with the potential for some strengthening over the warm Atlantic waters, and is expected to remain in close proximity to our region through the middle of the week.”
3 p.m. update: Hermine is slamming the Mid-Atlantic coastline with huge waves and strong wind. In Ocean City, Md., wind gusts have reached 40 mph.
In its 2 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said that the center of the storm was about 90 miles east of the Outer Banks, but its impacts stretch up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
The storm is expected to strengthen over the next 24 to 36 hours and slow down as it tracks northeast. Though it’s not a hurricane, Hermine will probably be hurricane-strength by Monday when the center of the storm is east of Delaware. Wind speeds along the coast will probably be highest on Sunday night into Monday. Gusts may reach 50 mph during this time.
— Tom Manatos (@TomManatos) September 3, 2016
With some hopeful vacationers still strolling along sand-blown boardwalks, Hermine’s assault on the East Coast is just beginning. By the time it finishes during the week ahead, significant impact is anticipated up-and-down the coastline.
“Life-threatening” hazards are now ongoing from North Carolina and into the Mid-Atlantic.
This is a theme that will continue throughout the holiday weekend, and potentially longer. Major beach erosion, damaging wind, dangerous surf, torrential rain and serious coastal flooding are all likely.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) continues a storm surge warning for the Hampton Roads, including Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Storm surge warnings have been extended up much of the Mid-Atlantic coast, and now includes most beaches through New Jersey. A surge watch remains in effect near New York City and in the Delaware Bay.
“A storm surge warning is defined as the danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, in association with a tropical, subtropical, or post-tropical cyclone,” according to the National Weather Service.
In the 11 a.m. update from NHC, Hermine is now a post-tropical cyclone with winds of 65 mph. “Regardless of its final structure, Hermine is expected to remain a dangerous cyclone through the 5 day period,” NHC wrote.
One of the biggest concerns with Hermine is the onshore wind flow that is likely to persist into the coming week. As the storm slows down, thanks to a high pressure to the north blocking its path out to sea, winds rotating around it toward shore will continue to pile water into the coast.
Surge levels will be high everywhere but will also vary a bit. In the Hampton Roads area, surge is expected to be between three and five feet. Similar is anticipated from Chincoteague, Va., to Sandy Hook, N.J. If anything, surge estimates may even be underdone.
— Ed Vallee (@EdValleeWx) September 3, 2016
Further north, including the New York City area, Long Island and Connecticut, surge of two to four feet is possible.
And this is not just one high-water cycle we’re talking about. A big part of the story is duration. While many storms affect this region, few hang out for so long. Hermine has continually signaled that it wants to sit and spin, for days and days.
— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) September 3, 2016
As Hermine moseys along, it will have huge waves associated with it. These are waves are on top of the storm surge, waves that will continue to punish regional beaches nonstop into early next week. Out in open waters, wave heights of up to 30 feet are likely.
Potential for enormous beach erosion LBI to Cape May, due to 3-5 days of large, unrelenting waves. Wave forecast: pic.twitter.com/ebwUgvWVqX
— Dan Skeldon (@ACPressSkeldon) September 3, 2016
In addition to the high seas and coastal flooding, rainfall is likely to add up near the storm center.
A briefing package delivered this morning by National Weather Service Mount Holly included a rainfall map for the Mid-Atlantic showing additional totals past three inches expected along the immediate coast.
Locally higher amounts are always possible in systems that have a tropical connection.
In Wrightsville Beach, on a North Carolina barrier island, up to two feet of rain has been reported. Rain “fell at 3 inches per hour” and “the wind blew at 50 to 70 mph,” according to Len Pietrafesa, a Coastal Carolina University faculty member and former chairman of the National Hurricane Center External Advisory Panel.
The future of Hermine should continue to be a wild one. While today it is a storm that has lost many of its tropical characteristics, once it spends time out over the Gulf Stream, it may try to regain the look and feel of a tropical cyclone.
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) September 3, 2016
If becoming the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in more than a decade wasn’t memorable enough, the refusal of Hermine to go away will certainly allow it to linger in many minds in the future.
(Angela Fritz and Jason Samenow contributed to this post).