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Hurricanes can form both in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. But, as hurricanes have a west-northwest motion, it’s typically the hurricanes that form in the Atlantic that Americans hear about in the news. 

True enough, out of the 10 tropical storms that form over the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico each year, about five hurricanes hit the U.S. in a period of 3 years, on average, according to National Weather Service (NWS). The country’s hurricane season is from June to November. 

In New Jersey, people might be more concerned about floods than hurricanes. But, what does New Jersey experience? Are there hurricanes too?

Do Hurricanes Hit New Jersey?

The answer is: yes. New Jersey does, in fact, have hurricanes. The state’s hurricane season starts from August until October, but there haven’t been many hurricanes making landfall in the Garden State. 

Despite this, New Jersey isn’t immune to the impacts of hurricanes. While a hurricane may not make landfall, it can still leave deadly and destructive threats. In New Jersey, these would be strong winds from 95 miles and above, flooding caused by the rains and thunderstorms that accompany a hurricane, and tornadoes. 

How Many Hurricanes Made Landfall in New Jersey?

Based on the Historical Hurricane Tracks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), of the 15 hurricanes that passed close to the state since 1850, only one made landfall. This was the Great Hurricane that hit the Garden State in September 1903. 

The hurricane made landfall in Atlantic City and also caused damage in many other places in the state. “Hurricane-force winds downed telephone and telegraph wires across the coast, ripped the roofs off of 60 cottages and destroyed the railroad bridge to Brigantine,” a news report from Shore News Today read (via “Most Jersey Shore fishing piers were severely damaged or destroyed.” 

Houses were damaged if not totally destroyed. Barns too. Many of these buildings, including six hotels in Ashbury Park, had their roofs fly off due to strong winds. The hurricane also uprooted many trees across New Jersey. 

High waves wrecked boardwalks and flooding was an issue. There was heavy flooding up and down the Shore. Floodwaters even reached inland as far as Trenton. 

Fruit crops in the state were also ruined. The hurricane had destroyed 75% of the apples and pears in Flemington, for instance. In total, the damage statewide was estimated to be $8 million. In 2023, this would have been equivalent to $279 million.

Impacts of Hurricanes on New Jersey

New Jersey’s coastline stretches 127 miles, and more than 120 municipalities and eight counties are part of the state’s coastal zone. Because of this long stretch of coastline and the communities living therein, New Jersey is vulnerable to major tropical storms and hurricanes. The damage can be severe depending on the storm’s track. 

When hurricanes or storms make landfall in the state, its high winds and tidal surge or storm surge can damage coastal communities. Even inland areas are not immune from the impacts of these natural disasters, as storm surges bring with them threats of flooding, too. 

Let’s take for instance Sandy, which was a category 1 hurricane. While it had weakened into a superstorm before making landfall in New Jersey, it is still worth discussing Sandy’s impact on the state as it illustrates how hurricanes can affect people, property, and the environment. 

In October 2012, Sandy hit New Jersey leaving a devastating trail in its wake. It was, by far, the worst superstorm to hit the state. 

Massive power outages resulted in more than 2 million homes, businesses, and other establishments losing power. The power outage forced Palisades Medical Center to evacuate its patients.

Torrential rain and high winds of up to 90 miles per hour (mph) caused storm surges and flooding of inland areas across the state. As strong winds hammer the waves, it pushes the water inland, resulting in a storm surge that went as high as 8.57 feet in Sandy Hook. Storm surges also caused rivers like the Hudson River to overflow, which threatened riverside communities.

If these saltwaters do not subside, it can weaken structures and facilities. Moisture can seep into the foundations and walls and lead to mildew and mold. Saltwater can also corrode buildings.

Winds of about 50 mph can cause minor damage like broken branches, while winds of about 80 mph can break windows or loosen shingles. However, winds with speeds of at least 100 mph can leave major structural damage and/or destruction in its wake. Depending on the wind strength and speed, it can cause mobile homes to move or trees to get uprooted or roofs to fly away. 

“In all honesty, it looks like a war zone,” Breezy Point resident Mike Long told CNN. “It looks like during the night that fighter planes or bombers came through and just bombed the entire area. It just looks terrible.”

In addition to these damages and destruction, hurricanes can also lead to losses –  not only of money or property but also of life. In the case of Sandy, nearly 400,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 37 people were killed. In terms of economic losses, the superstorm left a whopping $30 billion in damages in the aftermath. 

How to Prepare for a Hurricane in New Jersey?

If a hurricane is in the weather forecast, one essential way to prepare for it is to listen to news from your local radio and TV stations or tune in to updates from New Jersey’s Office of Emergency

Management on social media. You can also listen to NOAA  Weather Radio. In any case, you should have a battery-powered radio (and extra batteries) on hand so you can still keep updated with weather forecasts even in the event of a power outage. You should also charge your mobile phone and have a powerbank ready. 

Should you not already know, find out if you live in a high-risk area for storm surges or floods, for example. In addition, you should also know how to shelter in place or where to evacuate should there be a need. Evacuation should be a part of your family disaster plan, along with an out-of-state contact. Last but not least, you should have your emergency supply kit that’s good for three days at the ready. 

For business owners, hurricane preparation might include a hurricane toolkit, training and exercises for emergencies, and a business continuity plan. 

Does New Jersey Have Hurricanes?

Hurricanes do hit New Jersey, with notable impacts like the Great Hurricane of 1903 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Preparedness is key for residents and businesses in the state.

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