High winds battered the entire East Coast, from North Carolina to New York, reaching 70 mph in Wallops Island, Virginia, late on Friday, whipping up the tides and causing coastal flooding, said meteorologist Greg Gallina of the National Weather Service.
Tides higher than those caused by Superstorm Sandy three years ago pushed water on to roads along the Jersey Shore and Delaware coast and set records in Cape May, New Jersey, and Lewes, Delaware, said NWS meteorologist Patrick O’Hara.
A high tide of 8.98 feet was recorded at 7:51 a.m. on Saturday at Cape May – slightly higher than the record of 8.9 feet previously set by Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012. A high tide of 9.27 feet was recorded at Lewes, higher than the 9.2 feet high tide recorded in March 1962.
Even so, there were only a few evacuations reported along the New Jersey Shore, where thousands of residents had to abandon their homes during the devastating 2012 storm.
The barrier islands near Atlantic City were experiencing significant tidal flooding, said Linda Gilmore, the county’s public information officer.
Officials in the coastal counties of Ocean and Monmouth issued voluntary evacuation notices for some communities and a mandatory order for some homes in the beach town of Barnegat.
The next high tide, due at about 7 p.m. EST, is expected to be higher than usual because of the full moon, elevating the concern of residents in vulnerable areas.
At least 13 people have been killed in weather-related car crashes in Arkansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia, and a 14th person died of a heart attack while shoveling snow in Maryland.
The Pennsylvania National Guard has been called in to help clear I-76 in the western part of the state and ensure stranded people have food, water, and fuel for their cars. Governor Tom Wolf, who said he would not impose a travel ban unless conditions worsen, said about 500 vehicles remain trapped on a section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
By the time the storm is over in Pennsylvania, some southern parts of the state will see 24 to 30 inches. One area near Gettysburg is expected to get 36 inches, officials said.
In Washington, moderate snow was expected to keep falling until late Saturday, with the deepest accumulation of 23 inches recorded in Poolesville, Maryland, north of the nation’s capital.
Snowfall measured 13 inches near the White House and 3.5 inches near the National Mall early on Saturday, the NWS reported, though the accumulations have risen sharply since then with 16.2 inches reported at the National Zoo and 16 inches at the U.S. Capitol.
The record high of 28 inches of snow in the nation’s capital was set in 1922 and the deepest recent snowfall was 17.8 inches in 2010.
The storm developed along the Gulf Coast, dropping snow over Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky on Friday. On the coast, warm, moist air from the Atlantic Ocean collided with cold air to form the massive winter system, meteorologists said.
It was forecast to move offshore in southern New England early next week.