HAWTHORNE, NJ - An unusual tropical disturbance is currently threatening to develop into a tropical depression or storm off the coast of North Carolina today. While uncertainty remains in the projected track, most weather models agree that the storm will accelerate northward tomorrow and strike the Mid-Atlantic or New England coast somewhere between Delaware Bay and Cape Cod. In the wake of the storm, temperatures throughout the region next week are expected rise into the mid to upper 90s, or in some cases over 100 degrees, as heat from the U.S. interior slides east under the influence of a high pressure ridge.
As of midday Thursday, a hurricane hunter aircraft has been dispatched to explore the tropical disturbance for signs of organization. Radar has indicated cyclonic motion centered near Cape Hatteras, at the eastern end of an elongated region of low pressure stretching nearly to Myrtle Beach. If this center is confirmed as the core of the storm, models predict the future track of the system will most likely bend towards New Jersey, potentially resulting in direct impacts to Hawthorne. While sustained winds associated with this storm are expected to remain below hurricane force (and likely less than 45 mph), there is potential for significant inland and coastal flooding. Already saturated ground in some parts of North Jersey will enhance flood risk, especially as model projections suggest some parts of Passaic and Bergen County could see as much as four inches of rain.
In terms of timing, the outermost bands of the tropical system could begin reaching North Jersey as early as 6:00 a.m. Friday morning, followed by the inner bands around 2 p.m. The center of the system should pass by or directly over Hawthorne just before midnight, continuing north into the Hudson Valley and potentially Vermont. Caution is advised if driving Friday evening or Saturday morning, as heavy rain and flash flooding could occur from eastern Pennsylvania to Long Island.
After the passage of the storm, humidity for the next eight to nine days will hover near 60%. Coupled with heat building in from the west, heat indices will likely spike into the 100s, with actual temperatures in the mid to upper 90s by Wednesday or Thursday. Some parts of New Jersey, especially along the I-195 corridor, could see actual temperatures over 100 degrees by Saturday, and heat advisories or warnings are anticipated.
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 recent 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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