TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Winds were kicking up Wednesday as New Jersey braced for a nor'easter that could bring higher winds, flooding and even the possibility of snow a week and a half after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey shore.
Forecasters said Wednesday's storm will likely be less damaging than initially feared. But officials in vulnerable shore towns whose beaches and dunes were wiped out were worried nonetheless.
Gov. Chris Christie warned residents that high winds may mean some homes and businesses that regained power will lose it again, and the wind could also slow efforts to restore power.
Toms River issued a mandatory evacuation of the Barrier Island for noon Wednesday. There are voluntary evacuations of low-lying areas on the mainland.
Middletown Township in Monmouth County has issued a mandatory 3 p.m. evacuation from Keansburg to Atlantic Highlands from Route 36 to the bay.
The National Weather Service says precipitation will likely start as rain sometime Wednesday morning, and then become steadier during the early afternoon. It could then mix with and change to snow as the day progresses.
Storm surges along the coasts of New Jersey and New York are expected to reach perhaps 3 feet, only half to a third of what Hurricane Sandy caused last week. While that should produce only minor flooding, it will still likely cause some erosion problems along the Jersey coast and the shores of Long Island, where Sandy destroyed some protective dunes.
Forecasters say that 1 to 3 inches of snow could fall in northeastern Jersey, and a coating is possible in other areas of the state. They also are concerned about Wednesday's two high tides because the damage Sandy caused to the state's dune system could make effects from coastal flooding more severe.
High winds, which could reach 65 mph, could extend inland throughout the day as well, which would likely stall power restoration efforts and potentially cause further outages.