HAWTHORNE, NJ - Hurricane Isaias, dogged by dry air, wind shear, and land interactions, has struggled to remain an organized storm. However, over the last 24 hours, the structure of the system has improved and intensified on approach to North Carolina. Weather models now show the hurricane merging with an approaching front on its path to New Jersey, a process that will enable the storm to maintain its strength throughout the day Tuesday. This will make Isaias a potentially dangerous storm, with a wind field approaching that of a hurricane even while a tropical storm over the tri-state area.

As of 11:00 p.m. EDT Monday, August 3, Isaias is expected to track along the Atlantic Coast, making landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, and accelerating northeastward into Delaware Bay by 1:00 p.m. Tuesday. Over the next several hours, the center of the storm will move across New Jersey, roughly following the path of the Turnpike and reaching the New York border by 6:00 p.m. For areas under the storm’s western flank, flooding will be the primary concern, with the storm dropping as much as 4 to 6 inches of rain. For locations under the eastern flank, including most areas within 20 miles of New York City and points along the Jersey Shore, the major concern will be high winds. Gusts along some parts the coast will likely exceed hurricane force (74+ mph), with the European weather model suggesting maximum gusts of 90 mph near Sandy Hook.

For eastern Passaic, Bergen, and Essex counties, the National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning, and peak sustained winds of 35 to 45 mph are expected around 5:00 p.m. Gusts up to 60 mph are likely to affect the region, which could result in prolonged power outages. Any unsecured lightweight objects left outside are likely to become airborne, and large trees could sustain limb damage or be toppled. While rainfall will be somewhat lower than points westward, 2-4 inches is expected, which will lead to localized flooding.   

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In anticipation of Isaias, the Governor of New Jersey has issued a statewide state of emergency beginning at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, and drivers are encouraged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. At this time, any storm preparations should be rushed to completion.  

For more information, readers are referred to National Weather Service products for the latest updates. This is an informal forecast discussion, and official products should be consulted before making any weather-related decisions.

Dr. Daniel J. Ciarletta is a graduate from the Environmental Science and Management program at Montclair State University and a longtime resident of Hawthorne. He has more than a passing interest in the geology, geography, and history of New Jersey, and is also an avid hiker.

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