By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
There was a misty rain hanging in the air as Mags Gleeson and her daughter Fiona and son Joseph emerged from St. Joseph Catholic Church after attending 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday.
The kids immediately headed for the warmth of the car, but Gleeson briefly stopped on the sidewalk to check the streets for the flooding that was supposed to swamp Sea Isle City from a coastal storm.
“What storm?” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
It’s not that she was disappointed, but the moderate flooding and howling winds that had been forecast by the National Weather Service for the shore on Sunday simply didn’t materialize.
Gleeson, who lives in South Seaville, had an easy drive from her home to Sea Isle to attend church. The 10:30 a.m. Mass roughly coincided with the arrival of Sunday’s high tide at 10:59 a.m.
“We thought there would be flooding, but there is no flooding. It was an easy trip to get here,” Gleeson said.
What was feared to be a nasty nor’easter pummeling the coast turned out to be a virtual no-show on Sunday morning and afternoon. However, a coastal flood warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect until 5 p.m. Monday, meaning there is still a chance the storm could lash the shore before completely disappearing.
“Hopefully, it’s not going to be as bad as expected,” said Mike Jargowsky, deputy emergency management coordinator for Sea Isle.
Jargowsky noted that weather forecasting remains an “inexact science.” With Sunday night’s high tide and Monday’s midday high tide still to come, he was not yet ready to declare that Sea Isle had completely escaped from the storm.
“We’ll wait and see. Hopefully, we’ll be spared,” he said.
After the winds died down, the threat of flooding greatly diminished. Jarkowsky explained that winds push water in from the bay to cause flooding in Sea Isle.
But when high tide arrived Sunday morning, there were only light winds and the streets were clear of floodwater.
Even the intersection of 40th Street and Central Avenue, where Sea Isle has a 24-hour “flood cam,” was dry in the morning and early afternoon. The corner of 40th and Central is often inundated with stormwater and serves as a barometer for flooding in the rest of town.
In a partnership with the city, the New Jersey Coastal Coalition installed the flood camera on Sea Isle’s Public Works building at 40th and Central earlier this year. The camera livestreams images on a 24-hour basis at https://www.njcoastalcoalition.com/sea-isle-city-web-cam.
Serving as an early warning system for flooding, the webcam helps residents and motorists to avoid stormwater as they travel around town. On Sunday, however, it wasn’t needed.
Sea Isle resident Martha Alexander lives in a flood-prone neighborhood on 44th Street at the bay. But on Sunday, she was able to take her daily morning walk on the oceanfront Promenade without any problem.
“I live right on the bay. Usually when we get a storm, water is right in my yard. But there’s no water there now,” Alexander said.
Alexander was forced to move out of her house for six months while it underwent extensive renovations to repair flood damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. With Sandy’s wrath still fresh in her mind, she is not intimidated by other coastal storms.
“I’ve lived through enough of them, so I guess they don’t panic me,” she said, laughing.
Usually vulnerable to stormwater, the Landis Avenue corridor in the downtown business district also was free of flooding Sunday afternoon.
John Glemser, who lives in Lehigh Valley, Pa., stopped in to get an afternoon coffee at the Wawa at 39th Street and Landis. He said he saw a little bit of flooding in the morning by Central Avenue and the bay.
Glemser was in Sea Isle for the weekend to do some renovation work on his vacation home at 30th Street and the beach. Despite the weather forecast for flooding and winds gusting up to 50 mph, he was unaware that a nor’easter was supposed to hit the shore.
“I didn’t even know that it was going to be stormy down here,” Glemser said.
Actually, it turned out that it wasn’t on Sunday.