Storm pounds Ocean City, Md. coastline But resort expects to escape damage


OCEAN CITY -- A spring storm of near winter-like fury threatened the Maryland coastline last night. But officials here said they were confident the resort would escape damage like that done by a Jan. 4 northeaster that pounded the Atlantic shore.

National weather forecasters warned that gale-force winds and higher than normal tides could cause coastal flooding in Ocean City and on parts of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline throughout today.

Winds reaching about 40 mph whipped the ocean out of the northeast yesterday from Chincoteague in Virginia to Fenwick Island in Delaware.

In Ocean City, 8- to 12-foot seas rammed the stone jetty on the south side of the inlet parking lot and provided a noisy water show for spectators who stayed dry in their cars. With the wind driving a steady rain, visibility was reduced to less than three nautical miles.

Elsewhere on the Eastern Shore, strong winds set flags snapping on their staffs and wings on artificial yard birds spinning like propellers from Salisbury to Centreville.

Ocean City Manager Dennis W. Dare said city workers closed the stainless steel gates on the sea wall portion of the boardwalk to keep sand from drifting onto the pedestrian walkway. Mr. Dare said officials were keeping an eye on three low-pressure areas similar to weather conditions that provoked the January storm that damaged the beach.

Despite the winds and rain, resort officials said they were not worried.

"I don't anticipate anything like Jan. 4 when [the low-pressure areas] sort of married and intensified," he said yesterday.

The greatest concern was about what effect today's 12:14 a.m. tide would have on low-lying sections of Ocean City. Some flooding in the Old Town area was expected.

Ocean City is repairing beach damage caused by the January storm. T. L. James and Co., a Louisiana firm, is scheduled to begin pumping sand back onto the beach May 15. If weather does not interfere, the project should be finished by July 12, according to Ocean City Engineer Terence J. McGean.

More than 80 percent of the $10 million beach-replenishment project will be paid by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with remaining costs being shared by the federal, state, Wicomico County and Ocean City governments.

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