North Wildwood’s Emergency Preparedness website
Starting with January we are using a different tide location for our prediction charts. For as many years as we can remember we have been using the NOAA Nummy Island tide predictions for our official tide predictions. Nummy Island tide predictions like most tide predictions in our area are based off a reference station which in our case is Cape May and a difference is added or subtracted to come up with a prediction for Nummy Island. After several years of posting the Water By the Numbers posts on Facebook it was clear that Nummy Island tide times were different that what we were seeing. For those that don’t know Nummy Island is located between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor (Ocean Drive takes you over it). The next nearest location and probably better suited for the back bay areas of North Wildwood is the West Wildwood tide prediction. So starting on January 1st, 2020 we will be using the tide prediction times for Grassy Sounds – West Wildwood as our tide predictions. While adopting a new prediction location really doesn’t change anything that happens with the physical tides the only real change is that the high and low tides will happen a half hour later than it previously was predicted. Most people will not notice the change and the only people that might have to do some thing are those with tide clocks or phone applications they use to track the tide and once they are changed nothing else is needed.
Next in November a staff member had the opportunity to meet one of the meteorologist from the Mount Holly – Philadelphia office of the National Weather Service. As a result of that meeting and a series of back and forth emails we learned the following regarding our understanding of the tide heights and what the NWS minor / moderate / major flooding mean to our area. For years because the NWS in their text version of Coastal Flood Warning provides predictions for both Cape May and Ocean City we used the tide heights of 6.7 feet as minor, 7.7 feet as moderate and 8.7 as major they were listed with Cape May. (measurement are feet above MLLW). In response to our inquiry the NWS responded “The values 6.7 (minor), 7.7 (moderate) and 8.7 (major) were developed specifically for the Cape May Ferry tide gauge. They were never meant to be used for the North Wildwood gauge due to the variability in MLLW from location to location. We at the NWS think that 6.0 (minor), 7.0 (moderate), and 8.0 (major) are more suitable values for North Wildwood. Those values would put you in synch category-wise with all the other oceanside gauges in Cape May County. When we issue a Coastal Flood Advisory you can expect water levels in the 6.3 to 7.0 foot range at North Wildwood. (We don’t issue advisories for low end minor events). When we issue a Coastal Flood Warning you can expect water levels of 7.0 feet or greater at North Wildwood. A warning would indicate that moderate to major flooding is forecast.”
Going forward we will be taking the recommendation of the National Weather Service and will incorporate the minor / moderate / major tide heights. This doesn’t change the tide and tide heights that we have been observing for years however it will give us a better understanding of what to expect when we hear a National Weather Service Coast Flood Advisory / Watch / Warning. Currently we see water at several locations around storm drains on Delaware Avenue when the tide reaches 6.0 and this height will vary from 5.9 to 6.2 depending on the wind speed and direction. So when we or the NWS says “minor” flooding for our area you can expect water from 6.0 to 6.9 feet which is generally water in the gutters of Delaware Avenue and adjacent side streets. Moderate is 7.0 to 7.9 feet which is generally water some areas of Delaware Avenue, New York Avenue, 400 West Spruce Avenue, North Delaware Avenue and adjacent side streets. Major Flooding starts at 8.0 feet and water will be from the west side up and onto sections of New Jersey Avenue and in some areas water will continue into the 100 block East of the adjacent side streets.
For those that follow the tide heights on the municipal tide gauge and know what the tide heights are when water is around your property there is no change. For those that key in on the NWS terminology of minor – moderate – major rather than numbers all of us are now on the same page. As far as the tide predictions the new location should bring us closer to the time when the tide will crest and start going down. The 2020 Tide Charts listing the high and low tides for the year are available by clicking the link called 2020 Tide Charts in the left hand column of this page.
As we approach winter, which officially begins in several weeks on December 21st, we should double check that we are prepared for winter. If you don’t have year round spigots is your outside water turned off? If you open your crawl space windows during the summer are they closed? If you have storm windows, as opposed to double pane windows, do you have the glass down over the screen section? Many of us do this from memory however in our busy and often distracted lives it would be better to create a check list. Get an inexpensive loose leaf binder and put your check lists in it so they are saved in one location. Check list don’t have to be one long list as it is easier to work with several smaller check lists. This way things are not missed and you don’t end up with broken pipes or a high heating bill.
As we approach the end of November and December it is the time of the year end holidays reign with their celebrations comes outside decorations and gift giving. It is important that we stay focused during this time of the year and don’t get carried away with the festivities. First think about travel safety as you will probably be travel one time or another a long distance to visit family, friend or even shop or see a show. Are you prepared – is your car’s tires in good shape? has your antifreeze been checked lately? do you have an emergency kit in the trunk in case you break down? is your spare tire properly inflated? If you take public transportation do you have alternative if the train – bus – plane is cancelled? If taking a plane trip do know what you can carry aboard? Next think about shopping – Do you have a shopping list or are you going to wing it and find something? You have to remember that the holiday crowds often bring out the pick pockets and snatch and grab thieves. Don’t flash a lot of cash and if you are using a credit card have the card in your pocket ready so you don’t have to pull your wallet out every time you make a purchase. Speaking of purchases store them in a locked car trunk rather than visible on the rear seat. Next think about the outside decorations – Are your outside lights rated for outside use? are your decorations anchored in the ground so they don’t blow away? If you live in a low area that gets either tidal flooding or rain flooding do you have any wires that will get wet?
The common theme that we are focusing on in emergency management is preparedness – Preparedness fits into everything we do – something as simple as checking the weather before you travel is preparedness or making a shopping list before you go to the store is preparedness. Thinking about the worst case scenario, i.e. what could happen and being ready for it, i.e., alternate transportation plans or winter emergency kit is preparedness. Life is full of preparedness situations most of which we don’t think as preparedness. Take a minute and think about it. You probably can quickly come up with 10 things you do to make the outcome better. Now apply the same thought process to the next winter storm or hurricane, etc. Take a few minutes to write down what you should do – now you have a plan. Next put the items of the plan in order you have to do them – now you have a check list. We are creatures of habit if you look at the things you do everyday through preparedness eyes when it is time when a disaster is eminent you will be ready and know what to do.
With October 1st a day away now is the time we should start planning for the winter season. Even though the weather is rather nice this week weather forecasters are calling for a cold front to enter our area with lower temperatures at the end of the week. This time of the year is when we secure the outside of our homes – some of us shut off our outside water, put away seasonal furniture, clean up our garden beds, take out the window air conditioners, and put up the storm windows. Many will check their car’s tire tread, put in winter windshield washer and have the garage check the antifreeze at the next oil change. Various winter forecasts show that we may have a cold and snowy winter depending on who you listen to this winter could be 4 to 5 degrees colder than normal which means snow at shore the same time they get snow inland and some predictions are calling for 75 percent increase in precipitation. Considering the intensity of the rain storms we have been getting it would be no surprise to receive more snow this year. Preparedness is the key to survival during the winter. Winter preparedness tips are available here.
To get a better understanding of the weather forecasts there are some YouTube videos posted by quite a few meteorologist in which they take the time to go in detail how they came about to make the forecast. These videos are useful for those that want to learn the facts behind the forecast. Most show you the websites they go to use to get their raw data and how to interpret the data. Some of the terminology gets technical at times. Here are some of the YouTube weather video pages that will show all the the videos that the particular Youtuber uploaded. Some of them post weekly forecasts along with long range winter forecasts. Take the time to check them out they are (click on their name to take to you their page) Direct Weather, Weather Decoded, MBCG Combo, and WeatherWorks. These are only a few of the weather forecasters that are available on YouTube.
With weather being our number one threat it is important that we use the many resources that are at our fingertips on the Internet. If you can access this page then you have the ability to access the various other weather resources. Starting with the local forecast the first place to check the weather is the local National Weather Service office which is the Philadelphia / Mount Holly Office. Their website can be accessed by clicking on the fourth link on the left hand side of this page (http://ready.northwildwood.com). They use data obtain from a fixed weather station at the Cape May County Airport and then adjust it for each town. The North Wildwood weather page will show you the seven day extended forecast and the Dover Air Force Base enhanced weather radar. There are two important areas on the page that need to be checked – first the section labeled in Red – Hazardous Weather Conditions – here you will find the Hazardous Weather Outlook which is updated regularly for the next seven days. Click on it to find out what is predicted. You will also find the actual severe weather warnings which you can click on to get details on the specific storm. The other important area is the section marked – Additional Forecasts and Information – here you will find the Forecast Discussion which is an explanation of rationale behind the weather forecast. While the graphics are easy to understand remember to read the text forecasts as they will contain the localized information.
Now that you have a reliable source for a weather forecast you need to monitor the weather. First location to get weather data, as well as tide heights, is the North Wildwood weather station. The weather station is located at the boat ramp at 5th and the Bay. The data can be accessed by the website link located on the left hand side of this page. What every person that lives in a flood prone area of town should a every time we have tidal flooding conditions make several observations of water height in the vicinity of your home and immediately check the tide gauge on the North Wildwood Weather Station. Take note of the wind speed and direction as it will affect the tide height. Next time when you hear a tide height prediction you will have some kind of idea of what to expect. Other weather stations to check can be found on the Weather Underground Website link (left side of this page). This will open to a map of the United States with weather stations indicated by orange circles with a temperature on it and a black line indicating wind direction and speed. When you click on the dot a box will open with current data. If you click on the weather station ID another page will open and you will get current as well as history of weather data in graph form. This is where you can find when the rain started and at what rate it came down, etc. When you zoom in a area you will see more stations – In North Wildwood we have three personal weather stations we can look at.
To see what is happening outside North Wildwood has two public camera on the Northwildwood.com website. The first is the Surf Cam showing conditions on beach at Second Avenue it can be accessed at https://northwildwood.com/north-wildwood-surf-cam/ and the latest addition the Bay Flood Cam which shows the back bay at the 5th Avenue boat ramp. The cam can be accessed at https://northwildwood.com/north-wildwood-bay-cam/ The bay cam is useful in seeing the tide height in relation to the marshes and boat ramp to give you visually an idea of the tide height.
With these tools you can monitor the local weather and combined with your observations learn how it will affect your property and help you decide what course of action you need to take to prevent loss or damages.
One of the things we constantly mention in Emergency Management is to make it a habit to monitor the weather forecasts so that you can be prepared. If you stop to think about this you probably do this more often than you think. How many times have you changed a Doctor’s appointment because the weather forecast predicted rain or snow and you didn’t want to drive in the snow or rain, or you changed a fishing trip or other outside sport because of weather forecast, or you simply closed your windows before you went to bed because it was going to rain during the night. All these are taking to account the weather forecast and preparing to prevent damages or losses. In the spirit of self preparedness we at Emergency Management ask that you monitor the weather on the same basis as you check your email or check your Facebook or other social media accounts. Just a few minutes a day checking the weather at one of the many weather apps for your phone or following the links on the left hand side this page (http://ready.northwildwood.com) on your computer will keep you up to date. For those that want to learn more about weather – consider becoming a Skywarn weather Spotter. Cape May County has an active group please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CapeMayCountySkywarn/ The training you receive as part of the Spotter Training is invaluable in understanding weather. Another way to learn about weather is to purchase one of the many books on meteorology or weather on Amazon or your favorite book vendor. After you learned more about weather then the next course is to find websites that provide you live and prediction data to review. The first one you should check is the NWS Daily Briefing (3rd link left hand side). The Daily Briefing is a website that has a link to everything you need to know about weather. If you find this page too much to start with then go to the basic National Weather Service local forecast (4th link left hand side) and read all the data especially the forecast discussions. The forecast discussions are often loaded with meteorological terms that you might have to look up but after a while you will have a better understanding of the weather forecast uncertainties. Once you have a better understanding of weather there are several websites that provide the forecast models and other information in one location. One such website is the Tropical Tidbits forecast model page https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models/ another one that we came across that has a good visual page is Ventusky https://www.ventusky.com/ on this website as well as many that we suggest you may have to click buttons to change what is displayed or change time frames to see future predictions. Both are worthwhile to add to your list of weather sites. After last weeks California earthquakes how many followed the Earthquake link (9th link on left hand side) to learn more about the earthquake. The link takes you to https://earthquake.usgs.gov/. Lastly since summer is the season of wild fires this website is handy to better understand where the fires are and the extent of the fire damage the website is https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. Never before in our history is so much information available at our fingertips to learn and be prepared. Search, Visit and Bookmark websites that you find so that you can go back frequently. When you take a moment to better understand our weather and surrounding you will be in a position to be Prepared for whatever the weather will bring us.
July 1, 2014
As we are already a month into the new hurricane season and our first tropical storm has been named it is time to check our emergency plans and preparation. We urge everyone to visit the links on the left hand side of this page. They are links listed under BE PREPARED. Preparation is not hard and while most preparation needs will be the same for everyone each person will have to come up with his or her own plan. By visiting the suggested websites and tailoring the information to your specific situation you can check your plans and ultimately will be better prepared.
Also today due to the many requests to be added to the flood notification list we have expanded the flood notification to all residents west of New York Avenue from Spruce to 26th Avenues. Phones in these areas will be called and a recorded message will played. There are two messages that can be sent one known as the initial call sent when it appears that flooding will take place and one sent when the siren has been sounded. These phone calls are sent via the CODE RED Community Alert System. Read below to how to add your cell or other phone numbers. REMEMBER this system is used city wide for other notifications so if you are not in the flood prone area you still should visit the CODE RED website and add your alternate phone numbers.
Currently the Code Red Community Alert System will dial every Verizon and Comcast Phone in North Wildwood. However with many people relying on Cellular phones the system will enable you to add phones to your address. Remember this system is based on North Wildwood addresses so when you sign up you need to attach your out of town phone to your North Wildwood address. Being addressed based the city will be using the system to alert those in flood prone areas of flood warnings, those on the snow emergency routes to move their cars and on occasion when there is a natural gas leak or police emergency a circular area around the incident will be notified. Those of you visiting this page can follow this link to get a head start on signing up your “other” phones (Click on the CODE RED LOGO)
On the Code Red website you will be asked if you want to add your email address or receive text messages. We have the ability to duplicate the contents of the voice message into an email and truncated text message. As this will only be used in an emergency why not add all your contact preferences and methods so you can keep informed. Also those with “smart” phones will have the capability to download the Code Red App.
At the North Wildwood Office of Emergency Management we feel our central job is to keep communications when the normal systems are failing. Therefore we don’t put one form of communication above another. At times some may seem simplistic in these times of technology however when normal systems fail we will fall back on them. That is why we depend on a fire siren, AM radio and telephone as basic methods of notification. We will be using North Wildwood’s AM1640 as the method of communication that can put the most information out. Please get your self a good AM radio. Remember when there are no emergencies AM 1640 broadcasts special event information – ever wondered what time the free concert starts and who is playing? it is on AM 1640; want to know what the start and end times of the festival in the entertainment district? it’s on AM 1640 as well as the upcoming events for the next several weeks.