8 things to know about NJ’s nasty nor’easter
The snow threat remain limited, but heavy rain, fierce winds, and high surf will still batter the Garden State late Sunday through early Tuesday.
UPDATE as of 4 p.m. Sunday...
Just going through to update a few details, based on the latest model guidance. Since I originally posted this article early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service has also issued a few new advisories and watches.
New Jersey is waking up to some dense fog on this Sunday morning. Visibilities are below a quarter-mile in many locations. Meanwhile, a band of rain - which I'm calling an "appetizer" for what's to come later - has enveloped the southern coast.
As of this writing, the powerful storm system set to affect New Jersey is bringing severe weather to the Southeast United States. We're calling it a nor'easter because of its distinctive storm track paralleling the Atlantic coast, which causes fierce "nor'east" (northeast) winds.
Usually such coastal storms are the bearer of heavy snow and blizzard conditions in New Jersey. This time around, it's almost exclusively wind-swept rain.
The wide variety of warnings and advisories issued by the National Weather Service can be very complicated to sift through and understand, so I've compiled a summary here. I hope this provides a helpful county-by-county outline of the storm's greatest predicted impacts.
High Wind Warning for sustained winds up to 40 mph, with gusts to 60 mph
--from 1 a.m. Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday... eastern Essex, Hudson, eastern Union
--from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday... Atlantic, southeastern Burlington, Cape May
--from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday... Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean
Wind Advisory for sustained winds up to 30 mph, with gusts to 50 mph
--from 1 a.m. Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday... Bergen, western Essex, eastern Passaic, western Union
--from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday... Salem, Cumberland
--from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday... northwestern Burlington, Camden, Gloucester
--from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday... Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Somerset, Warren
Coastal Flood Advisory for up to 3 foot surge, and up to 8 foot waves
--from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday... Atlantic, southeastern Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean
--from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday... Salem
--from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday... eastern Essex, Hudson, eastern Union
Flood Watch for 1 to 4 inches of rain, potentially causing widespread flooding
--from 1 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday... Bergen, Essex, Hudson, eastern Passaic, Union
--from 4 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday... Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset
Winter Weather Advisory for 1 to 3 inches of snow, with up to 6 inches at higher elevations
--from 1 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday... western Passaic
Winter Storm Watch for 3 to 5 inches of snow
--from 1 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday... Sussex
3.) The Brunt of the Storm
The daytime hours on Monday (morning through evening) will feature the heaviest rain, the strongest winds, and the highest surge.
4.) Detailed Timeline
Through 10 a.m. Sunday: "Appetizer" rain event affects New Jersey's south coast (primarily southern Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumerband counties)
During the day Sunday: Mostly cloudy, mostly dry, and mostly mild. Thermometers may climb into the lower 50s again for the southern part of the state.
Sunday Evening (after 5 p.m.): Scattered light rain will spread northward through New Jersey.
Monday 7 a.m. to Tuesday 1 a.m.: The main event. Bands of very heavy rain, and wind gusts to 50-60 mph will spread through the state. Coastal flooding concerns will be greatest at the times of high tide.
Through Tuesday Midday: Residual rain is likely.
Through Tuesday Night: Winds will begin to calm and skies will begin to clear.
The latest model roundup shows 1.2 to 2.9 inches of rain are forecast to fall across the Garden State. So, the statewide average will be about 2 inches - that's some healthy rainfall! Visibility and traction will obviously be very low in the heaviest downpours. And, if a lot of rain falls in a short period of time, flash flooding may occur.
The threat for wintry weather will remain limited to far North Jersey, particularly the area in and around Sussex County. It's a precarious situation, as temperatures will hover around or just above the freezing mark for the duration of this system. So that will present a chance for periods of freezing rain or snow along the state's highest elevations. Model consensus still shows a trace of snow and/or a trace of ice. But I have to mention that previous runs (and prior history) suggest totals could ultimately be higher. It all depends on that magical 32-degree temperature mark.
Do not underestimate how strong the winds will be with this storm. In fact, I suspect the wind will be the most memorable impact of this nor'easter. Inland New Jersey should expect east-northeast wind gusts to 50 mph, with gusts as high as 60 mph along the Jersey Shore. That's enough to down trees and power lines, causing scattered power outages. It will also blow around lawn furniture and garbage cans, so you'd be wise to secure them before the storm hits. Finally, controlling high-profile vehicles (like trucks, buses, and vans) may be difficult during the peak of the storm.
8.) Coastal Impacts
Minor to maybe moderate flooding of tidal waterways is expected. The high tide cycles of greatest concern will occur early Monday morning, Monday midday, and early Tuesday morning. (High tide occurs up to 3 hours later in the back bays.) The latest guidance shows storm surge of 2 to 4 feet. So, for residents along the coast, imagine where the high tide line comes up to on your dock or bulkhead, and go up 4 feet. Again, this event looks to primarily fall in the "minor" category. Regardless, that's enough to cause roadways "that always flood" to close during high tide. Ocean waves up to 8 feet may cause moderate beach erosion.
Stay smart, stay safe! As always, we'll be here to bring you the latest updates throughout the storm. Next weather blog update expected early Monday morning.