Even though it hasn’t produced a drop of rain in the last two days, and was spinning a good 200 miles offshore, a ponderous, mutant offshore storm now named Melissa has generated a prolonged siege of wind and waves that continued to swamp roads at the Jersey Shore late Friday.
With another high tide Friday evening, the list of road and lane closures continued to grow. Flooding forced the closure of a portion of Route 47 in Wildwood and Route 9 in Absecon, the National Weather Service said, and floodwaters were reported on Route 40 west of Atlantic City and on Route 147 in Cape May. Ventnor police reported that Dorset Avenue Bridge was impassable, along with Wellington Avenue.
On Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center named the storm Melissa after it took on characteristics of a tropical storm with sustained winds of up to 65 mph. “That was unexpected,” said Trent Davis, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Mount Holly office.
By Friday night, it appeared that Melissa —technically a “subtropical storm” — had become a bit winded, at least as far as its impact on the Shore. “It looks like they are dying down a little bit," Davis said.
Speeds had dropped to under 10 mph, but waves agitated by two days of robust winds and frequent 30 mph or better gusts had extracted a price.
Both the Ocean City and Ventnor School Districts opened two hours late Friday because of flooding, and police reported high water had closed a number of roadways and some bridges at the Shore.
Thursday night, members of the Ventnor Pirates football team had an unplanned dinner at a pizza parlor after they got stuck in Ventnor Heights.
Incongruously, skies were clear at the Shore on Friday, and not a drop of rain was measured in Atlantic City on Thursday or Friday.
But the ocean proved that it didn’t need any help from the rain to stir up trouble.
While winds inland have been lighter, the Delaware River was being affected “because the storm offshore has such a large circulation, and it’s been the same area," said Jonathan O’Brien, Davis’ colleague.
O’Brien said the flooding at the Shore might have been worse Thursday morning had the winds not shifted slightly to an offshore direction, more from the northwest than northeast or north.