Each summer the population of the barrier-island communities of New Jersey increases by tens of thousands. When a coastal storm threatens these communities, the limited number of bridges and causeways that connect the islands with the mainland become overcrowded, making evacuations from the barrier islands to the mainland difficult. Timely evacuation depends on well-defined emergency evacuation plans used in conjunction with accurate flood forecasting and up to the minute (real-time) tide-level information.
The 'Great Nor'easter' storm that struck the coastal areas of New Jersey on December 11, 1992, caused about $270 million in insured damages to public and private property (Dorr and others, 1995). Most of the damage was due to tidal flooding and storm surge, which were especially severe along the back bay areas. Comprehensive and reliable tide-level and meteorological data for the back bays was needed to make accurate flood forecasts.
Collection of tidal data for the ocean and large bays was adequately covered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service (NOAA's NOS), but in New Jersey little to no data are available for the back-bay areas. The back bays behave quite differently than the ocean as a result of the complex interaction between the winds and the geometry of the inlets and bays. A slow moving Nor'easter can keep tide levels in back bays several feet higher than the ocean tide by not allowing tides to recede, resulting in flooding of bridges and causeways that link the barrier islands to the mainland.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), designed and installed the New Jersey Tide Telemetry System (NJTTS) with assistance from NOAA's NOS in 1997. This system is part of a statewide network of tide gages, weather stations, and stream gages that collect data in real time. The NJTTS supplies comprehensive, reliable real-time tide-level and meteorological data for flood-prone areas along the New Jersey shore and back bays. These data are transmitted to computer base stations located at offices of the National Weather Service, New Jersey State Police (NJSP), NJDOT, county emergency management agencies, other critical decision-making centers, and the World Wide Web (WWW). This fact sheet describes the NJTTS and identifies its benefits.