South Jersey is waking up to a stronger Sandy, whose winds as of the 5 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory were up to 85 mph, with the potential for gusts above 90 mph.
High tide, which occurs about 7:40 a.m. in Atlantic City, is forecast to break the record of 9 feet, set during the December 1992 northeaster.
Atlantic County has a travel ban in effect until further notice, with only essential workers and those workers providing an essential public service allowed to be on the roads.
Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland in Cumberland County also have issued similar bans, as has Middle Township in Cape May County.
As of 6 a.m., the water level at Steel Pier, which provides a flooding benchmark throughout the region, was already above 7 feet. In Cape May, the water level was up to 6.8 feet
Atlantic City Electric has reported only a few outages, comparatively, to during Hurricane Irene at this stage; about 350 customers were without power as of 6 a.m. That number is expected to grow significantly during today and overnight, as Sandy is expected to make landfall near midnight, according to the National Weather Service.
Atlantic City already has seen wind gusts at 50 mph and West Cape May reported a wind gust of 36 mph since 5 a.m., according to the office of the State Climatologist out of Rutgers University. Sustained winds, as of 6 a.m., are at 21 mph at the Atlantic City Marina.
However forecasters predict most of New Jersey will see hurricane force winds for at least a time today or early tomorrow as the massive storm's center makes landfall somewhere near South Jersey. That could be anywhere from Cape Henlopen, Delaware to Point Pleasant, Ocean County, according to the National Hurricane Center.
All state, local and county offices are closed today, as are courts, schools, parks, public libraries and senior centers. All garbage collection has been postponed.
Atlantic County warns that as streets begin to flood, authorities will not be able to put out barricades to mark the spots out of concern the wind will blow the objects away, said Linda Gilmore, Atlantic County spokeswoman.
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