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Fay makes landfall along Jersey coast, heads for New England

By Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather.com
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Fay makes landfall along Jersey coast, heads for New England
Pedestrians carry umbrellas while walking in Times Square as tropical storm Fay approaches New York City on Friday. The storm made landfall hours later. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 10 -- Fay weakened from a tropical storm to a post-tropical depression Saturday, one day after making landfall near Atlantic City, N.J.

Its sustained winds dropped from 60 mph to 50 mph and moving at a forward speed of 14 mph as it made landfall, according to the National Hurricane Center. Atlantic City is near Brigantine, N.J., where Hurricane Sandy made landfall in 2012.

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As of 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Fay's sustained winds dropped to 35 mph and was classified as a post-tropical depression as it continues its path northward at a speed of 17 mph. The center of Post-Tropical Depression Fay was located about 30 miles south of Albany, N.Y., according to the National Hurricane Center.

As of early Saturday morning, all tropical storm warnings associated with Fay have been cancelled.

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AccuWeather forecasters have rated Fay a less than one on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes.

The formation of Fay late Thursday afternoon, the sixth-named storm in the Atlantic this year, added another record to the books as it is the earliest named "F" storm to form in the basin in the satellite era, which dates back to the 1960s, and added to what has been an unusually active start to the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

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Early on Friday morning, Fay's outer bands were bringing rain and rough surf along the coast of South Jersey. Video posted on social media showed the streets of Stone Harbor, about 40 miles south of Atlantic City, already flooded. Several coastal towns in Delaware were also dealing with flooding. Heavy rains and tropical-storm-force winds continued along the mid-Atlantic coast through the afternoon as Fay marched north.

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The storm dumped more than five inches of rain on West Ocean City, Md., by Friday afternoon -- more than 2 inches above the city's normal precipitation total for all of July.

Forecasters expect Fay to impact New York City as a tropical storm. Fay's center remained just west of New York City proper as it tracked northward Friday evening, just missing out on becoming the fourth tropical system to track directly over the city prior to Aug. 1.

The three to hit the city before the start of August are Hurricane Bertha in 1996, Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and Tropical Storm Brenda in 1960. Most direct hits on The Big Apple have occurred later in the season or outside the metro area. The most recent tropical system to hit New York City was Hurricane Irene in late August 2011.

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"The path this storm has taken is rather unique for this time of the year," Kottlowski said.

Many other tropical storms have affected New York City over the years, of course, including Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which was classified as a post-tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center at the time of its landfall in New Jersey, though it devastated the New York metro area.

Fay formed just before 5 p.m. on Thursday about 40 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

"Fay's winds will only impact sections of the mid and upper New Jersey coast and along the southern coast of western Long Island. Winds will spread across Long Island and impact Long Island Sound impacting southern New England coastal areas," AccuWeather senior meteorologist and lead hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said about the storm's potential. Indeed, President Donald Trump's campaign heeded forecasters' warnings and canceled a rally that was scheduled to take place in New Hampshire on Saturday.

An AccuWeather Local StormMax wind gust of 65 mph is expected over the water or over some of the hilltops.

The system is forecast to drift on a general north to northeast track through this weekend. This path will take the feature inland over New England and into Quebec.

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Heavy rainfall with the feature will fall across eastern New York state and into New England during the day on Saturday. Heavy rain will continue to fall from the system as it tracks northward, with some downpours being heavy enough to lead to urban flooding problems.

Those with plans at the beach may have them interrupted by downpours and locally gusty winds through the day on Saturday. Swimming conditions could be rather dangerous depending on what beach you are at. Strong rip currents and rough surf could pose a risk for anyone thinking about heading into the water.

Generally, 2 inches4 inches of rain is expected from the tropical system along the mid-Atlantic coast, the Hudson Valley of New York state and in western New England with an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 6 inches anticipated.

This means that part of New England, which has been in a worsening drought situation could be quenched by the tropical system.

Depending on the strength of the storm, winds blowing in from the Atlantic will cause above-normal tide levels. Minor coastal flooding at times of high tide can occur as the feature moves northward.

Regardless, seas will build to moderate levels, and rip currents will increase in strength and number until after the storm has passed well to the north this weekend.

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In lieu of direct tropical impact, areas farther west will be under the influence of an approaching non-tropical system this weekend. That feature will produce a swath of drenching showers and thunderstorms over the eastern Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and the central Appalachians first, then the Atlantic coast later in the weekend.

While areas west of the coast may dodge the tropical system, rain will move in from outside of the tropics regardless.

In the wake of the tropical feature along the Atlantic coast this week, a similar setup could allow yet another tropical system to slowly brew in roughly the same area next week.

AccuWeather is projecting a busy season ahead with 14-20 named tropical storms, seven to 11 hurricanes and four to six major hurricanes. Five tropical storms are already in the books for the season, with two U.S. landfalls.

Fay has unseated another entry in a long list of 2005 tropical storms that held early-season records since the satellite era of the 1960s. The earliest sixth-named storm on record was Franklin during the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, the same season which produced Hurricane Katrina in late August. Franklin formed on July 21, near the central Bahamas, and traveled northeastward, well to the east of the U.S. coast. The storm did not reach hurricane strength.

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Last weekend, Edouard became the earliest fifth tropical storm in any Atlantic hurricane season since the satellite era of the 1960s. On July 5, Edouard beat out Emily, which formed on July 12 and went on to become a Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean Sea in 2005, by a week.

Cristobal became the earliest "C" named storm in recorded history for the Atlantic on June 2, a feat that typically does not occur until around the middle of August. The storm went on to crash ashore along the Gulf Coast, where it unleashed flooding rains. Dolly was the second-earliest "D" named storm ever in the basin, but it moved out to sea without impacting land.

Arthur and Bertha, as well as Dolly, formed in the same near-coast waters of the eastern U.S. this season. Both Arthur and Bertha formed in May, prior to the officials start of hurricane season on June 1.

Looking beyond Fay, the next two named storms on the Atlantic list for 2020 are Gonzalo and Hanna.

The 2005 hurricane season also holds the earliest dates for tropical storms through the letter "K" when Katrina formed on Aug. 24. Gert formed on July 24, 2005, followed by Harvey on Aug. 3. The name Harvey would eventually be retired after the 2017 season when a different Harvey brought devastating flooding to Texas.

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Since the area along the Atlantic coast will remain unsettled through the middle of July, it is not out of the question for another tropical feature to take shape in that area. Odds are against any major tropical system in that area next week. Forecasters say it's more likely systems similar to what have been forming thus far this year in the Atlantic, such as tropical depression and storms, will develop.

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