By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Kate Szur began monitoring the weather forecast two days ago and feared that torrential rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida would spoil part of her family’s vacation in Sea Isle City this week.
“Honestly, two days ago I was worried because it looked like there would be two days of rain,” said Szur, a resident of Maplewood, N.J.
However, the heavy thunderstorms, damaging winds and flash flooding initially predicted for the Jersey Shore from Ida shifted farther west and north and spared Sea Isle from the terrible weather.
The changing forecast allowed Szur, her husband, William Kramer, and their children, Olivia and Sam, to sneak in some beach time Wednesday while the storm’s wrath was concentrated in other parts of New Jersey.
The most trouble they had was keeping their beach umbrella from blowing away as the gusty winds began picking up late in the afternoon.
Szur and her family didn’t dare venture into the choppy surf churned up by the storm. Sea Isle’s lifeguards had red flags flying to warn sunbathers not to go into the rough waves.
Later in the day, large stretches of the shoreline were virtually empty because beachgoers headed home when the winds began to get stronger and gray skies took over.
The shore region remained under a tornado watch until 10 p.m. Wednesday and a flash flood watch until 8 a.m. Thursday.
Rainfall was first predicted to be 2 to 4 inches at the shore, but was lowered to about an inch after the severe thunderstorms moved farther to the north and west than the initial forecast. With much less rain in the forecast, the possibility of flash flooding diminished.
“It doesn’t look like the flood watch is a major concern for us,” Mike Jargowsky, Sea Isle’s emergency management coordinator, said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
In a follow-up interview shortly before 8 p.m., Jargowsky said only about one-third of an inch of rain was measured up to that point. In another encouraging sign, there was no street flooding during the high tide at around 5 p.m., he added.
Although Jargowsky was hopeful that Sea Isle would not get hit by any drenching rain or flooding, he remained concerned about the tornado watch.
“We deal with flooding and wind, but a tornado is a rare thing,” he said of the typical storms at the shore. “Let’s hope everybody comes through it safe and sound.”
Peggy McDermott and Lynn Tracey, who are both veterans of Sea Isle’s occasionally pernicious coastal weather, weren’t overly concerned with the approach of Ida’s remnants as they chatted outdoors while sitting on a bench Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve lived here for a long time,” McDermott, a 45-year resident of Sea Isle, said reassuringly. “But we did lose a car during (superstorm) Sandy, so that makes you a little wary. So, we don’t take things for granted.”
Tracey, the owner of the James’ Fudge & Salt Water Taffy Store in Sea Isle, said she wasn’t worried because wind gusts from Ida weren’t expected to approach the strength that could cause widespread damage.
“We’re not too concerned about this because we know the winds have diminished,” said Tracey, a summer resident of Sea Isle.
The storm is expected to completely exit the shore on Thursday morning.
Until then, McDermott had some words of advice: “Listen to the forecast, and hear what they have to say,” she said.