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Latest NJ blizzard forecast: Over a foot of snow still expected

Will the entire Garden State experience those big snow totals and blizzard conditions? Probably not.

I’ve seen our impending winter storm described as a “blockbuster” and “historic” and “record breaking” and “crippling”. Wow. Hyperbole aside, this is absolutely shaping up to be a significant, memorable storm for New Jersey.

However, I have my doubts that the big, bad, blizzard-ish impacts will affect the entire state. Furthermore, any forecaster who suggests they have a confident handle on exactly what’s going to happen and where is lying.

This update mainly tweaks the snowfall map, but leaves the forecast for other impacts the same. Before reading onward, I suggest you skim my previous blog posts to acclimate yourself to the storm’s setup and my previous forecasts.

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: Heavy snow, high winds likely


SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: Big snow for NJ?

Latest Forecast Rundown

Winter Storm Warning 20170312

–Timing: First flakes may arrive in southwestern New Jersey as early as 8 p.m. Monday. The peak of the storm, featuring the heaviest snowfall and highest winds, is expected between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday. Light snow may continue beyond Tuesday afternoon, possibly through Wednesday morning.

–Snow: The “sweet spot” continues to be northern and western portions of New Jersey, where over a foot (12 inches) of snow is likely. At the storm’s peak, snowfall rates may reach an incredible 3 inches per hour. Slightly lower (but still significant) snowfall over a half-foot (6 inches) is expected through the majority of central and southern New Jersey. Along the coast, our current forecast has mixing and rain limiting snow totals, especially in and around Cape May County.

–Wind: Sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph are expected during the peak of the storm, with gusts over 40 mph inland and 50 mph along the coast. Wind direction will be somewhat variable, but mostly out of the northeast (“nor’east”).

–Coastal: Those fierce northeasterly winds will also push a lot of water toward the Jersey Shore. 2 to 3 feet of surge will combine with a higher-than-normal astronomical tide to potentially produce “moderate” flooding along tidal waterways. The most precarious high tide cycle will occur Tuesday morning, in which the water is expected to peak just above the “Highest Astronomical Tide” mark. Tuesday evening’s high tide cycle will also need to be watched carefully.

Impacts

Let’s be honest. Are you really going to act differently before and during a 6-inch snowstorm, compared to a 12 or 18 inch snowstorm? Probably not. It’s just a matter of how much white stuff you have to shovel, and for how many additional days schools will be closed.

During the peak of the storm, travel will be very difficult (if not impossible). The combination of falling and blowing snow may reduce visibility to near-zero at times.

In addition, the fierce winds by themselves could down branches, trees, and power lines — which will be weighed down by any snow accumulation. Scattered power outages are likely. Widespread power outages are possible.

The coastal flooding picture is becoming more hazardous as well. Moderate flooding of tidal waterways may cause road closures and some inundation issues (in what I call the “usual” spots). Beaches will be eaten away by 10+ foot ocean waves.

This storm is no joke. Bottom line: Don’t be complacent, and don’t be stupid.

Winter Storm Warning

WARNINGS AND WATCHES: Comprehensive list and description of all current advisories

Notes from the Weatherman

As I mentioned at the top, I am not convinced everywhere in New Jersey will see blizzard conditions and double-digit snow totals.

As I also mentioned already, I am not convinced we will see widespread totals greater than 18 inches. So far, I’ve seen models (and other meteorologists) spit out 24, 30, and even 36 inches of snow over New Jersey. I can not forecast snow totals that high without additional evidence and consensus.

The ranges on my forecast maps are very wide on purpose. There remains a great deal of uncertainty and inconsistency among forecast models. I’m also wary of mesoscale snow banding, which can practically set up anywhere and at any time during the storm. These super-heavy bands of snowfall can cause drastically different totals from town to town.

On the other hand, I’m always terrified of subsidence (sinking air) and the inevitable dry slot. It’s going to set up somewhere, and that “somewhere” is going to be very disappointed by their final snow totals. Models suggest the dry slot will stay south and west of New Jersey during the brunt of the storm, but that’s no guarantee.

Usually when I’m predicting a big snow storm like this one, I pick a model solution that’s my “favorite” and adjust accordingly to create my own forecast. Can’t do that this time around! The models are still a mess, with hideous consistency and some wacky output. For example, for Camden, New Jersey, I could provide model evidence to support snow totals ranging from 1 inch to 24 inches – that’s ridiculous! I am comfortable with my conservative, middle-ground forecast for now. Just know that my forecast will change (evolve) as the storm comes closer — that’s just how this weather game works.

Got Photos?

When Old Man Winter attacks the Garden State, we want your photos, videos, and storm reports! Not only do these help me “nowcast” in the middle of the storm, but we love to share them with our audience. Best way to submit them is via our mobile app, available now in the App Store and Google Play.

GOT APP? Download and install before the storm arrives!

Next weather blog post expected by 7 a.m. Monday.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.

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