Flood worries after Sandy remain into afternoon

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Sandy may be gone, but she won't soon be forgotten.

Historically, from a meteorological standpoint, it was a storm that quite likely "will go down in the record books," National Weather Service observation program leader Tim Morrin said Tuesday morning.

And even with the eye of the storm well into Pennsylvania, even with kinder skies over Long Island Tuesday, officials said tidal surges, damaging seas and "piling" waters will continue to inundate flood prone areas of the North Shore and the South Shore until at least 3 p.m. -- the weather service even issuing a coastal flood warning for the area.

"There was so much fetch to this storm," Morrin said.

Fetch is a term defining the length of water over which wind has blown and the distance waves have moved without obstruction.

In this case, Morrin said, "A thousand miles of ocean was pushed." And, worse for Long Island, the angle of the winds pushing that ocean, the angle at which that water moved, created a phenomenon known as "piling" -- which means water almost stacked on itself, creating exceptionally high tides.

Even more devastating was that those exceptionally high tides occurred at an astronomical high tide. In lower Manhattan, at the Battery, that created record high tides with a 9.3-foot storm surge Monday, the weather service said -- with a mark 13.9 feet above the mean low low-water tide.

In other words, above the average low tide.

Those surges were significant all over Long Island on Monday, Morrin said, with Freeport marked by a 7.9-foot surge, Lindenhurst with a 6.2-foot surge, Montauk with a 5.2-foot surge. The tidal departures for the South Shore on Tuesday were expected to be 3-to-4 1/2 feet above normal.

The wind direction was also expected to create significant high tides again on the North Shore, according to Morrin.

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That's where the fetch also comes into play, Morrin said, because, as he said, so much water was pushed by Sandy -- and that means it will be a slow process for it to all recede.

The repeat of flooding during the morning high tide and, possibly, some minor flooding during the evening high tide, means many roadways near the shores will be impassable, the weather service said, noting: "These water levels will be much lower than the historic water levels Monday night."

"We're still going to get some breezy winds and gusts today, plus scattered rain," meteorologist Lauren Nash said.

Winds from the south Tuesday will be between 20 mph to 30 mph, with gusts to nearly 50 mph. But by later in the day those winds should drop to 10 mph to 15 mph, Nash said.

As the storm moves north into Canada over the next two days, the chance of rain lingers, Nash said. Chance of precipitation is about 70 percent Tuesday night, 30 percent Wednesday and 20 percent Wednesday night, the service said.

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"We should see some clearing by Wednesday night," Nash said. Thursday's forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain, with Friday calling for partly sunny skies.

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