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The effects of Winter Storm Tomas in New Jersey were arguably the worst for any recorded winter storm. It's effects ranged from coastal flooding to very heavy snow. It made landfall in Ocean City, NJ as a Category 5 winter storm, with winds of 115 mph, a snow rate of 6 inches per hour, and a minimum central pressure of 943 millibars. 78 deaths were recorded in New Jersey as a result of the powerful blizzard, and damage amounted to around $8 billion (2020 USD), making it the costliest winter storm ever recorded.

Preparations

When it became clear that Tomas would move ashore NJ, Winter Storm Warnings and Blizzard Warnings were issued for the entirety of the state. Coastal Flood warnings were also issued, and for the first time in NJ, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern US history, a Major Wind Warning was issued for Ocean City; a Major Wind Warning is only issued when winds of at least 115 mph are expected. Usually, these are only issued when major hurricanes approach the Southeast; the issuing of the warning was the first time ever that the warning was issued for a blizzard, or an extratropical cyclone. Evacuation orders were issued for the middle eastern NJ, and a state of emergency was issued for NJ. Sandbags were deployed around rivers coasts, and businesses in preparation for massive storm surge, and the New Jersey National Guard was deployed to help in preparations for the storm. Dunes were dug up in beaches to prevent water from overflowing. Over 2 million people evacuated from the storm.

Impact

Throughout NJ, 78 deaths were recorded, and $8 billion in damage was recorded. Over a quarter of the state lost power.

Ocean City

Due to Tomas making landfall in Ocean City, it bore the brunt of the storm. 23 people died as a result of the storm there.

Coastal flooding easily overtopped the dunes, resulting in almost all of Ocean City being under feet of water. One person was crushed and killed by a house rolling through the street. A 18 year old was swept out to sea and presumed drowned before the blizzard moved ashore.

Winds made missles out of trees, resulting in houses being torn apart and flooded due to downed trees. Widespread water rescues were performed. Some houses were taken off of there foundations, and flown down roads until they either crashed into other houses or were torn apart. 2 people inside a home died when a tree fell onto their house; they survived the downing of the tree, but drowned when water flowed into their homes. Wind tore the roofs off of homes in some places. At the height of the storm, nearly all of Ocean City was buried under feet of water. A waterspout also moved ashore in the 'eyewall' of the storm, further damaging some houses; as a result of the spout, 7 were killed, mostly due to flying debris. The spout was rated EF3. Thundersnow was also frequently recorded; a lightning bolt struck a helicopter, and it fell onto a mostly intact house. The 3 people inside the helicopter were injured, 1 fatally, but no one was in the house. Windows from the Ocean Resort Casino were blown out from the high winds, and was in danger of collapse because of flying debris and trees. A gust of 133 mph was recorded at the height of the storm. 3 people in a car drowned after it accidentally drove into flood waters. Overall, 184 homes were destroyed in the area. Winds downed power lines, causing power outages for the entirety of the area.

Snowfall caused roof collapses; a total of 36 inches was recorded in an area that wasn't flooded. High winds combined with that snow to create large snow drifts. A car crash killed 1 person inside a car and 2 bystanders. An improperly set up generator caused the death of a 43 year old woman. A snow-plow struck and killed 2 people walking across a road. A roof collapsed in onto it's house, killing 2 people. Overall, $2 billion in damage was recorded in Ocean City.

Elsewhere

Before the storm moved ashore, 6 people drowned off the coast of New Jersey outside of Ocean City, with 4 in Asbury Park, and 2 in Atlantic City.

Tomas maintained its intensity far into New Jersey, resulting in nearly all of NJ experiencing hurricane-force wind gusts, and about a quarter of NJ receiving hurricane-force sustained winds. Widespread whiteout conditions caused car crashes, and strong winds downed trees onto power lines. Snowfall reached up to 3 feet in Union, New Jersey. Rivers were entirely flooded, causing street flooding. 3 people in a car drowned near Millburn, after the car spun out into a river. A roof collapsed onto a house holding a 'blizzard party' in East Orange, resulting in the deaths of 5 attendees. A truck crashed into a car in Newark, crushing it and killing the only person inside, and 2 more cars crashed into the toppled truck, killing 1 and injuring 2. The driver survivied with critical injuries. Throughout New Jersey, 9 people were asphyxiated and killed from improperly set up generators. A tree fell onto a car and killed 2 people inside it. A factory exploded in the Orange area after a fire (separate from the future West Orange fire) lit over 300 tons of fireworks. It destroyed 9 houses and killed 17, mostly from burns and getting struck by debris. The catastrophic failure of a small shop from heavy snow killed 2 people and injured 13.

A fire formed after the storm near West Orange, from a downed power line, and quickly spread, claiming 15 houses and 7 lives.

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