The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical-storm watch for the entire New Jersey and Delaware coasts with Elsa expected to track close to the beach towns early Friday.
Tropical-storm force winds — 39 mph or better — are possible at the Shore, the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly advised, with rains of one to three inches Thursday night into Friday.
And with the atmosphere doing some serious prep work, heavy rains and flooding also are in play throughout the Philadelphia region, the National Weather Service says.
A classic July air mass has brewed what feels like a water-vapor consommé, and the weather service’s heat advisory remains in effect through 8 p.m. Wednesday for triple-figure heat indexes and highs in the mid-90s.
Thunderstorms could pop up again Wednesday, particularly just north of the city, but the main event is expected to arrive Thursday night with the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa or its remnants.
As it spends time over land, Elsa is expected to be downgraded to a “depression,” but regain its tropical-storm status when it re-emerges off the Jersey coast.
The Shore towns likely are in for a period of high winds, heavy rains, and un-swimmable surf.
Coincidentally this would occur quite close to the anniversary of the mayhem stirred up this time last year by Tropical Storm Fay.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center reported that Elsa was making landfall on the northern Florida coast with peak winds of 65 mph and was moving north at 14 mph.
In the region
Strong winds and heavy rains are all but a certainty at the Shore, said Dave Dombek, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. As for what happens along the I-95 corridor, he said: “That’s to be determined.”
The radius of the strongest winds might be confined to near the center of the storm, he said, and rain might be a tougher call.
Elsa could interact with an approaching front, and in that case, the heavy rains “would just get sprayed everywhere.”
Conversely, it is possible that Philadelphia and other areas on the mainland will be situated between the front and Elsa.
In that scenario, Elsa would have a suppressing effect on inland rain totals. Rain develops when warm air rises over cooler air and condenses. But what goes up must come down, and the sinking air on either side of the rising currents would create air-drying “subsidence.”
That effect is probably most evident during snowstorms, when snow bands form over narrow corridors, while areas not that far away are snow-deprived.
In any event, this evidently is going to be an adventurous weather week as the summer heat reaches its annual climatological peak. “We pretty much have something of everything in the next several days,” Dombek said.