Coastal storm forecast shifts east – Sunday still messy for NJ
The snow forecast is lower, but a mix of rain and snow is still expected for most of the Garden State from Saturday afternoon through early Monday morning.
Yes, there's still a coastal storm threat for this weekend, centered on the first day of Spring. And yes, it is still going to rain and snow in New Jersey. However, the latest GFS and NAM forecast models show a surprisingly consistent shift in the storm's track to the east. That's the out to sea direction. So the storm's impacts will be lessened as we are currently forecasting only a glancing blow for the Garden State.
Friday evening's weather blog has a complete discussion of the potential rain vs. snow impacts and the challenges of accumulating snow. Here are a few notes, updating our forecast with the latest data:
Accumulations Coming Down
The combination of this new more eastward shift and the temperature difficulties of the ground and the air mean we need to lower our snowfall forecast. I'm painting a broad brush forecast of 1 to 3 inches of snow in New Jersey. The Jersey Shore will probably end up on the low end of this forecast, as mixing with rain will limit snow accumulation. Additionally, North Jersey may end up on the very edge of this system, and very well receive little to no precipitation at all from this storm.
Could It Shift Back Again?
Of course. The European and Canadian models still show higher snow totals across New Jersey (4-6"). However, I believe the chances are low for a significant weather threat for New Jersey, especially given the warm ground and relatively warm air challenges. Because the coastal storm's track may ultimately "wiggle" in either direction, this forecast is still subject to tweaking and adjustment (pushing snow totals either a bit higher or even lower). This is the reason I decided to not create a snow map for this update - I'm finding that people look too closely at "how much am I gonna get in my town" instead of viewing the broad, overall picture.
Faster and Earlier
In addition to the change in the storm's track, New Jersey is probably going to feel the effects of this coastal storm system a bit earlier. Saturday's forecast won't be 100% perfect, especially in South Jersey. Rain and snow showers may encroach the southern third of the state by Saturday afternoon. All models still show the bulk of the storm will affect New Jersey from Sunday to Monday, with the peak occurring around Sunday evening. Skies will clear sooner on Monday, and the threat for lingering showers throughout the day is lower. North Jersey, keep in mind you'll be the last to see raindrops and snowflakes, and there may not be very much falling anyway.
Even if this storm turns into a complete bust in terms of rain and snow, we're still going to experience some issues along the Jersey Shore. Strong east-northeast winds will push ocean water against the coast. Some coastal flooding is possible due to 1 to 2 foot surge at the time of high tide on Sunday (and possibly Monday morning too). In the grand scheme of things, this level of flooding should be quite minor. Road closures right along tidal waterways may become necessary. Ocean waves of 6 to 8 feet may cause minor to moderate beach erosion.
All week long, my weather blogs have waffled back and forth between a heavy rain event, a snow event, and now a "hardly anything" weather event. I was chastised on Thursday for suggesting that anywhere between 0 and 14 inches of snow was possible. Everybody focused on the dramatic 14-inch possibility - but the "hardly anything" possibility was always on the table! The challenges of springtime snow were the reason we waited to put definitive numbers in this forecast. We strive to inform, not hype and panic.
We'll continue to watch this volatile situation carefully through the rest of the weekend. Next blog update will be either Saturday late afternoon or Sunday morning, depending on the storm's progression and any necessary forecast changes.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!