Ocean City under tropical storm warning as Hermine moves up Atlantic coast

Ocean City is under a tropical storm warning as Tropical Storm Hermine moves up the coast, with major coastal flooding and wind gusts up to 65 mph expected from Saturday through Labor Day.

At the Ocean City inlet, Atlantic waters are expected to reach flood stage by midday Saturday. They could rise 2 feet beyond that, nearing a record level, by Monday's high tide, according to the National Weather Service.


Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Friday declaring a state of emergency in the counties of the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland: Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, Worcester, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's.

Rain is forecast for the Baltimore area by Saturday afternoon and continuing through Sunday, but how much falls depends on Hermine's track. Forecasts Friday evening suggested that the storm will stall off the Mid-Atlantic coast on Sunday but remain a few hundred miles offshore.


Hermine could bring up to an inch of rain to the Baltimore area, and as much as 6 inches to Ocean City and the lower Eastern Shore.

Even without a direct hit, the storm is expected to ruin the long holiday weekend in Ocean City. A severe storm surge of as much as 51/2 feet, wind gusts up to 50 mph and 15-foot waves are possible there.

"It's not the weekend we were hoping for. We were expecting a very big weekend," town spokeswoman Jessica Waters said.

The storm could get as close as 100 to 150 miles off the coast of Ocean City by late Sunday or early Monday, and a flow of winds toward the east and northeast is expected to cause at least moderate if not major flooding there, said Lyle Alexander, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's forecast office in Wakefield, Va.

"It's not going to just move on out to sea," Alexander said. "It's going to stall and sit for a few days a little off the coast."

Kevin Whitt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office, said Friday that it was still difficult to predict what the storm would do overnight and into Saturday as it moved from Georgia and South Carolina back out over the Atlantic Ocean near North Carolina and Virginia.

"Is it going to hook west, go off to the east?" Whitt said.

On a big summer holiday weekend, Ocean City's population swells to 300,000, but a rainy forecast can discourage people from traveling to the shore, Waters said. Town officials are encouraging residents to be prepared, and for residents and visitors to stay informed.


"These storms can change quickly," she said.

Maryland Emergency Management Agency officials urged residents, particularly those on the Eastern Shore, to monitor forecasts and prepare for power outages and flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said that there are risks of "life-threatening" coastal inundation from North Carolina to Connecticut through Sunday.

The storm's impacts in Ocean City could linger into early next week, with large waves and higher-than-normal tides, Alexander said. But in the Baltimore area, skies are expected to clear by Monday afternoon, with high temperatures returning through the week.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.