Hermine’s march up the Eastern seaboard was shifting toward the east Sunday, which forecasters said will lessen the storm’s impact on coastal New Jersey, Delaware and New York City while increasing the threat of bad weather for parts of eastern Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Tens of millions of residents, from Virginia north to New England, are expected to remain under tropical storm watches and warnings for the rest of Labor Day weekend.
The threat of high winds and storm surges has already ruined holiday plans for many residents, as beaches closed across the Northeast.
The National Weather Service was predicting sustained winds of about 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the nearby island of Nantucket — powerful enough to knock down small trees.
Surging tides from the storm could be as high as 5 feet from Chincoteague Island, Virginia, north to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
The storm surge should be less powerful — but at 2-4 feet, still dangerous — along coastal areas of New York City, eastern Long Island and Newport, Rhode Island, the weather service said.
Rain won’t be much of a problem, because the heaviest rainfall will remain offshore. Only 1-2 inches is expected along coastal areas.
Out to sea, Hermine is expected to regain hurricane-force winds — about 75 mph — sometime during the remainder of the holiday weekend, although the National Weather Service will not officially call it a hurricane. Instead, forecasters have labeled Hermine a post-tropical cyclone.
As of Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, the National Weather Service reported the storm was slowing down, moving east-northeast at about 6 mph. Its center was located 325 miles east-southeast of Ocean City, Maryland — near latitude 37.2 North, longitude 69.3 West.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend from the center as far as 230 miles, with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph and even higher gusts.
The storm is expected to turn northeast before likely moving northward to northwestward through Monday. It’s then expected to meander northeast, beginning to exit the Northeast US coast sometime Wednesday.
Storm brings out determined celebrators
Greg and Margee Germaine weren’t letting Hermine ruin their wedding anniversary celebration Saturday in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They managed to enjoy cocktails on the beach — while getting blasted by sand.
“It may not be swimming weather, but it’s been beautiful,” Margee Germaine said, despite overcast skies and heavy surf.
Winds there Saturday afternoon were 25 mph, with gusts of 35 mph, the weather service said.
Elizabeth Brister, 23, saw her Labor Day weekend plans in “A.C.” blow away in the wind.
“Right now, it’s looking like we’re not having much of any beach fun,” she said. “I was just pelted in the face with sand and I actually have sand in my contact right now. It kind of hurts.”
Masbahul Islam, a pedicab driver who has worked in Atlantic City for six years, said the Labor Day crowd is much smaller than in years past. The cancellation of two concerts due to the weather kept a lot of people away, Islam said.
A handful of people came out to the beach near the famous Steel Pier amusement park, mostly to look at the rough seas. The pier was closed Saturday.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Saturday for Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties.
“The impending weather conditions constitute an imminent hazard,” he said in a statement. “This situation may become too large in scope to be handled by the normal county and municipal operating services.”
Labor Day cancellations
Because of concerns about rough seas, dangerous surf and strong storm surge, no swimming will be allowed on New York beaches Sunday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is considering closing them Monday and Tuesday, too.
“We’ll see how the storm develops. People can walk on the beach and be on the sand, just not in the water,” he said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency for 12 counties along the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe warned Friday that people faced a strong possibility of “life-threatening” storm surges in coastal areas over the weekend.
Two deaths reported
When Hermine ripped into St. Marks in Florida’s Big Bend region just before 2 a.m. Friday, it became the first hurricane to come ashore in the state since Wilma struck 11 years ago.
One person died in Florida as Hermine approached. John Mayes, 56, was sleeping in a tent behind a gas station in Ocala, about 65 miles northwest of Orlando, when a tree fell onto him Thursday night, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.
A medical examiner’s office has yet to determine whether the storm was the cause, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.
One person died Saturday when a tractor-trailer overturned while crossing a bridge in eastern North Carolina amid high winds from Hermine, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Public Safety, Michael Baker, said. The identity of the truck driver has not been released.