The forecasts since Tuesday have been unusually consistent: The cool season's first nor'easter — and a particularly potent one — will affect the region Friday night into Saturday with a variety of unpleasantness, including heavy, wind-driven rain; gale-force gusts; and the potential for power outages.
It will be an especially rough period for the Jersey Shore, forecasters warned, with onshore gusts past 50 mph and the coastal flooding.
Astronomical tides would be a bit higher than usual given that, while the moon will be waning, it still will be nearly full.
The National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood watch for Atlantic and Cape May counties at the Shore from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and a coastal flood warning from Long Beach Island north, where the storm could have a bigger impact.
The greatest risk would be flooding during the morning high-tide cycle, said Alex Staarmann, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Mount Holly ; Atlantic City's high tide would be around 10:10 a.m.
With powerful winds and heavy rains, the region's utility companies said Friday they were on alert and would have additional crews available if needed.
Along with an expected 1 to 2 inches of rain, the glacial pace of this year's leaf fall could compound the region's problems, said Paul Walker, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc.
Trees still are weighted with leaves, and soil remains wet from weeks of heavy rain. That could make trees vulnerable to gusts, especially from so-called counter winds from the east; trees are accustomed to yielding to prevailing winds from the west.
Those factors could raise the power-outage potential. "That's certainly a possibility," Walker said.
Philadelphia International Airport is advising travelers to check with their airlines for potential flight delays.
Forecasters said the storm would move east along the Gulf Coast, then make a left turn up the Atlantic. The weather service said late Thursday that models were taking the storm very close to the Jersey coast and that it might even track slightly inland.
The storm is going to get an additional charge from strong winds in the upper atmosphere, the Weather Service office in Mount Holly said in its morning discussion.
Rain is likely to start about 8 p.m. Friday and continue through most of Saturday.
As to whether the early season nor'easter portends a stormy winter, Walker said that if there is any correlation, he hasn't been able to find it.