5:30 p.m. update
At 5 p.m., Hermine was positioned about 335 miles east of Ocean City and contained maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. It was drifting east-northeast at 5 mph, farther away from land.
Given its distance away from the coast and current movement, tropical storm warnings have been dropped south of Fenwick Island, Del. They remain in effect from Bethany Beach, Del. to Nantucket, Block Island, and Martha’s Vineyard in southern New England, where they were recently extended.
The storm surge warning has been dropped for much of the Mid-Atlantic coast and is now only in effect around Long Island.
Still, the National Hurricane Center said seas may rise one to three feet above ground level at high tide for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beaches from Rehoboth Beach, Del to Montauk Point, NY during the next 48 hours.
While the threat of severe coastal flooding, strong winds and rain have diminished in many parts of the Mid-Atlantic coast, dangerous rip currents and beach erosion are likely for the next couple of days.
Original post from 10:20 a.m.
Hermine may not be a hurricane anymore, or even a tropical cyclone, but it remains an imposing feature packing 65 mph winds and sending big waves to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. coastline.
Over the next few days, the bulk of the destructive winds, rainfall, and even the cloud cover will remain offshore, which is good news for everyone but beach-goers. Hermine will linger just offshore, generating a lot of angry waves and elevated water levels from Virginia up to Massachusetts. Fortunately, the storm has drifted farther east than forecasts had predicted, which reduces its impact somewhat, but not completely.
As of Sunday morning, storm surge warnings extend from Cape Charles up to Sandy Hook Bay, while storm surge watches are in effect for the Delaware Bay and the Long Island region. Not all of the locations will experience their highest water levels at the same time, of course, but over the coming four to five days and especially during high tide.
The worst is still ahead for Ocean City, which should see its peak water level on Monday morning at nearly four feet above the average high tide level. Lewes, Rehoboth and Atlantic City can expect about the same. Areas farther north along the New Jersey and New York coast are less certain at this point, but should be on high alert for the potential for major beach erosion and coastal flooding.
For Ocean City and other coastal locations nearby, the National Weather Service states: “Winds remaining gusty today but will average 15-25 mph with gusts to 40 mph along the ocean. Only Minor rainfall amounts today and tonight. Coastal flood threat greatest ocean side, with minor to low end moderate flooding today and tonight, increasing to moderate to locally severe possible on Monday when the highest storm surge of the event is likely to occur. Minor flooding possible Chesapeake Bay side.”
On Saturday morning, Hermine lost its tropical characteristics and transitioned to a more typical type of storm for being this far north. It is now officially classified as “post-tropical,” as opposed to purely tropical or a hybrid type called subtropical. These designations classify a storm by the distribution of its winds and its primary fuel source. They do not make a storm any less dangerous! A post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds is definitely capable of causing damage — just think back four years ago to Sandy and its New Jersey landfall.
Unlike Sandy, Hermine is not forecast to actually make landfall. Landfall would bring the strongest winds immediately to the coastline (as well as higher storm surges), but a large, intense storm stalling offshore still creates trouble for beaches and coastal residents.
The National Hurricane Center has continued to issue its suite of advisories and products on Hermine for continuity. Normally, that agency is responsible only for tropical and subtropical systems, but since Sandy in 2012, it was decided that storms that transition to extratropical status near the coastline still require a high level of public awareness and guidance. As such, tropical storm warnings and watches are still being issued — not because it’s a tropical storm but because it’s an extratropical cyclone with tropical-storm-force winds.