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September 01, 2016

Which way will Hermine go? Jersey Shore will have to wait for the answer

More exact track expected Friday

Hurricane Hermine will come ashore from the Gulf of Mexico early Friday in northwest Florida, but its path northward remains unsettled.

Forecasters think Hermine, christened a hurricane Thursday afternoon, will weaken again to tropical storm strength as it reaches the coasts of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, but her track remains unclear even as recent weather models indicate the storm may shift to the east as it passes the Jersey Shore.

The National Weather Service says the storm has a "cone of uncertainty” that is huge – about 200 to 300 miles across.

To put things in perspective, the predicted likelihood of winds 39 to 73 miles per hour – the definition of a tropical storm – striking Atlantic City between Saturday and Sunday is just 10 percent, according to Lance Franck, an NWS meteorologist in Mount Holly, referencing data from the National Hurricane Center.

Related story: Labor Day shore forecast unsettled with chance of 'sick waves' and 'sleeper waves'

“The steering of the jet stream winds will determine” the track’s nearness to the coast, and that proximity will determine everything else, such as wind, rain and potential flooding.

“The official track puts it moving to the Northeast. But this is two days or more out and that’s too far to determine an exact track,” Franck added.

The coast of New Jersey will feel some effects on Saturday, but the eye of the storm will not parallel the Jersey coast until Sunday, said Franck

The storm is expected to cross into the Atlantic Ocean between Northern Florida and Southern Georgia. Governors in those states are already closing state offices in advance of the storm.

The National Hurricane Center puts Hermine over the Outer Banks of North Carolina Saturday morning, according to Franck.

On Thursday, the storm was still in the Gulf of Mexico, with winds around 60 miles per hour.

Hermine is expected to cross the Panhandle of Florida before hooking northward along the Atlantic Coast.

Forecasters see it heading along the coast of the Carolinas, but then the track becomes uncertain.

Franck said “we should have a better handle on that” on Friday.

For now, the National Weather Service Mount Holly office is predicting the following:

• Moderate to high risk of of rip tides Thursday into Friday due to Hurricane Gaston, which is far out in the Atlantic, then a lull, and return to rip tide risks Saturday into Monday

• A moderate risk of high winds, especially along the coast, from Saturday to Monday

• A moderate risk of heavy rain, especially near the coast. But the Weather Service cautions rainfall amounts are uncertain because the exact course isn’t yet clear

• Stream and river flooding is not expected since the region has been dry, though street flooding and flash flooding are a risk

• A storm surges is not likely. But minor to low-end moderate tidal flooding is possible during high tides from late Saturday through Monday.

• In Atlantic City the high tide Saturday night is at 9:40, then 10:06 a.m. and 10:17 p.m. on Sunday. The high tide Monday is at 10:45 and then again at 10:55 p.m. For other locations, check a tide chart.