WEATHER ALERT: Flooding and wind warnings in effect as conditions worsen from looming Sandy

A coastal flood warning is in effect until midnight Monday night, as the eye of Hurricane Sandy is expected to make landfall south of Atlantic City, N.J., according to National Weather Service officials. A flood watch is in effect through Tuesday afternoon. A high wind warning is in effect from 8 a.m. Monday to 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Bands of moderate to heavy rain are forecast move across the Delmarva and far southern New Jersey through 3:30 a.m. Rainfall amounts of around a third of an inch per hour are expected to occur over many locations and rainfall amounts could exceed a half-inch per hour over southern and central Delaware and adjacent portions of the Maryland Eastern Shore. Some locations may see ponding of water on roads and in poor-drainage areas.

Winds are forecast to be from the north to northeast at 15 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.

Major coastal flooding is forecast for the Monday morning high tide, and major-to-record coastal flooding is forecast for the Monday evening high tide. Minor-to-moderate coastal flooding was occurring at Sunday evening's high tide.

At Rehoboth Beach, Sunday evening's high tide occurred at 7:32 p.m. and resulted in moderate tidal flooding. The Monday morning high tide occurs at 7:55 a.m., with a forecast tide level of around 8.5 feet above mean lower low water. The Monday evening high tide occurs at 8:11 p.m., with a forecast tide level of around 8.5 feet above mean lower low water. That last forecast assumes that the path of Sandy will cross the New Jersey coast late Monday evening.

Numerous roads will flood and need to be closed. Moderate to major property damage is likely, with the possibility of severe damage along Raritan Bay and the northern New Jersey coastline Monday evening. The tides and wave action will result in major beach erosion.

High surf driven by frequent gusts up to hurricane force will contribute to the flooding on Monday and especially on Monday evening along the Atlantic coast.

Through Tuesday, 4 to 10 inches of rainfall is forecast. Heavy rainfall near the time of high tide will not drain and will exacerbate tidal flooding.

Sandy is expected to produce damaging winds up to hurricane force across the region Monday into Tuesday. Sandy is projected to become a powerful nor’easter as it turns westward on Monday and slams into the New Jersey coast later Monday evening, with a period of damaging winds. The prolonged period of high winds with this storm is expected to add to the destructive power.

Officials said everyone needs to take the storm seriously and expect conditions to worsen.

Winds from the northeast to north at 35 to 45 mph with gusts of 60 to 70 mph are anticipated Monday into Tuesday. Shifting winds should then start diminishing later in the day Tuesday. Local wind gusts to 75 mph are certainly possible, especially for areas closer to the coast.

Northerly winds will increase from the Atlantic coast inland. The strongest winds are expected to occur between 4 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday.

A prolonged period of high winds will increase the potential for structural damage, downed trees and widespread power outages, especially from about the I-95 corridor eastward to the coast.

The combination of the wind, increasingly rain-softened ground and many trees still with leaves was expected to result in widespread power outages Monday into Tuesday. Trees could be completely uprooted and many tree limbs will be broken. Power outages may be of long duration.