Heavy rain and dense fog impacting Wednesday evening commute
Slow down and use low-beam headlights on your way home this evening, as low visibility and big puddles are making for poor driving conditions across New Jersey.
UPDATE as of 5:35 p.m. Wednesday...
The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for southeastern Hunterdon County, as rain and snow melt have pushed the Neshanic River to near flood stage. The river is expected to exceed flood stage this evening, which may necessitate road closures along the river near Flemington, Reaville, and Neshanic. Never attempt to drive or wade through flooded areas: Turn Around, Don't Drown!
As promised, steady to heavy rain has been pushing through the Garden State this afternoon and this evening. The wet weather is making a total mess of the evening commute.
Bands of heavy rain will continue pushing through the Garden State through at least early Thursday morning. So far, the rain has been pretty well-behaved, with no truly torrential downpours yet. As of 4:30 p.m., the highest rainfall totals in the state so far have just toppled over the 1-inch mark. Models suggest widespread 1 to 1.5 inches of rain will be likely by Thursday morning, with pockets of up to 3 inches in the wettest spots. Obviously, the rain is making the road extra-slippery this evening.
Big puddles and minor to moderate flooding will continue to be a problem as the heavy rain combines with heavy snow melt. There has been some stream rise noted as a result of the rain and the melt, but nothing major at this time. The bigger problem for this evening's drive time is probably hydroplaning, where a fast-moving vehicle skims along the top of a puddle, losing road traction and even losing control. That is especially prevalent this evening along road shoulders where snow melt has been occurring all day.
Dense fog has also formed, as a result of the relatively warm rain coming into contact with the cold snow on the ground. Visibility is very low in spots, down to a quarter-mile. Again, a good reason to use slow down, be extra cautious, and only use low-beam headlights (with fog lights if you have them).
The timing of the rain's end is still a bit in question. It seems pretty clear that moderate to heavy rain will continue through at least midnight Wednesday night. We will probably taper off to showers in the early morning hours of Thursday, before the rain ends completely by about Noon on Thursday at the latest.
Yes, tonight's drive will be messy and inconvenient... but you know it could have been much, much worse. Thanks to today's high temperatures (54 to 64 degrees), it's only rain! Cooler air will leak in behind the rain on Thursday, leading to a chance for light snow early Friday morning.
Dan Zarrow is the Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.