A busy weather week for NJ: Cool, mild, rain, cold, snow
As cold arctic air arrives midweek, New Jersey's atmosphere will be primed for wintry weather if and when our next storm system visits.
I have a headache. This week's weather forecast is quite complicated, with lots of intricate "what-if" scenarios. The big weather story is easy — a big cooldown is only a day-and-a-half away.
With cold air in place, the threat for snow becomes real for the first time this season. In fact, there are three shots of snowflakes in the coming week: Snow showers on the backside of a cold frontal passage Wednesday morning, possible accumulating snow from a coastal storm from Friday night into Saturday, and then one more system early Sunday morning.
Yup, it's going to be an interesting week. Let me step day-by-day through the forecast, to elaborate on what to expect through the end of the workweek:
Monday: Freezing Fog to Clouds
The workweek is beginning with some very thick patches of fog over New Jersey. This fog can come on all of a sudden, and visibility observations don't do this "pea soup" justice. Stay extra alert on the road.
Meanwhile, temperatures across most of the state have fallen below 32 degrees. Fog + Freezing = Freezing Fog! That means ice crystals may accrete (the technical term for ice accumulation) onto cold surfaces. You may find some heavy frost on your car as a result — be prepared to spend time scraping and/or warming it up early Monday morning. Isolated black ice patches are also possible as a result of the freezing fog, but I don't think it will be be a huge, widespread problem as the ground is still pretty warm.
Patchy dense fog may very well hold on until lunchtime. For the rest of Monday's outlook, I'm going to remain rather pessimistic — driven in part by Sunday's forecast bust. So after the fog, skies will remain mostly cloudy with high temperatures limited to the upper 40s to around 50 degrees. Not the prettiest day, by any means.
In addition, a Coastal Flood Advisory has been posted for the Jersey Shore through Monday morning's high tide cycle. Localized minor flooding is possible. Not a big deal, hardly worth a mention.
A blanket of clouds overhead Monday night will prevent temperatures from falling more than 5 degrees from our Monday daytime highs. Thermometers will mostly bottom out in the mid 40s by Tuesday morning.
Tuesday: Mild but Wet
A finger of warmer air arrives in the Garden State on Tuesday, pushing temperatures toward 60 degrees. But once again, it's not going to be a pretty day, with cloudy skies, a stiff breeze, and some wet weather.
Far ahead of an approaching front, scattered rain showers may fire over New Jersey by Tuesday late morning. Steadier rain should hold off until Tuesday evening, through the overnight hours.
Wednesday: Falling Temperatures
Showers will wrap up early Wednesday morning. And, as temperatures will be close to the freezing mark for at least northwestern New Jersey, the final licks of this system may involve a transition from raindrops to snowflakes. No accumulation is expected — the ground will be too warm and too wet, and the snowfall duration will be too brief.
Wednesday's high temperatures will occur in the morning, in the neighborhood of 50 degrees. A return to sunshine will be nice The cold arctic wind, not so much.
That wind will deliver our cooldown. Thermometers should start to plummet Wednesday afternoon, through the 40s, possibly as low as the upper 30s by sunset Wednesday.
Thursday: Feel the Chill
By the numbers, Thursday's sunshine and seasonable temperatures represent a decent December day. The chill just might be a bit unpleasant, given our recent stretches of mild weather.
Highs will be limited to the mid 40s or so, with an occasional breeze over 15 mph.
Friday: Potentially Wintry
Friday is going to be cold. (Saturday too, by the way.) The latest models suggest high temperatures within a couple degrees of 40. That is definitively below normal for early December.
We're also watching a coastal storm system that is currently forecast to sideswipe the Jersey Shore sometime from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. The GFS model has waffled between a snowy solution (up to 4 inches) and a very snowy solution (up to 8 inches). The Euro model has flip-flopped between a miss (storm veers out to sea) and a hit (on the order of 4 inches). Our potential bullseye of heaviest snowfall would be along the south coast.
I have no doubt temperatures will be cold enough to sustain snow accumulation, especially during the Friday-Saturday overnight hours. The big question marks are 1.) track and 2.) intensity.
The National Weather Service hinted they are leaning toward a "no snow" forecast — kind of a foolish call to be so assertive so early, in my opinion. I suspect social media-rologists will start to pump out the "snowmaggedon" posts on Monday — equally foolish, since many forecast options on the table would be rather insignificant for most of the state.
Bottom line... I need to see better model convergence before I add details to this forecast and essentially pick a favorite scenario — no snow, snowy, or very snowy. Stay tuned, as the beginning of next weekend could be very interesting!