March roars in like a lion with ice and snow
The threat of accumulating snow and ice will likely make travel hazardous from Sunday afternoon through the Monday morning commute.
Basically, now! We’ve already had a few bands of light snow and sleet push through New Jersey this morning. That trend of light precipitation is expected to continue until early to mid afternoon. That’s when the heavier bands are expected to arrive, moving from southwest to northeast.
As of this writing, temperatures across the entire state are well below freezing. But as the core of the storm system moves in later, it will also carry warmer air both at the surface and aloft. (But the ground will still be freezing.) So a transition from snow to sleet to freezing rain is expected for at least part of the state. That will lead to the potential for dangerous icing and nearly impossible travel, as we’ve already seen several times this winter.
Final flakes and drops are expected by 5 a.m. Monday morning, but the damage will be done for the morning commute.
Upwards of 4 to 6 inches of snow accumulation is expected in colder North Jersey, where the transition from snow to freezing rain will be delayed (or won’t happen at all).
For Central Jersey, some snow accumulation is expected, but the bigger concern will be for the ice accumulation. As we’ve discussed many times already this winter, it really only takes a few drops of ice accretion to create a very slippery surface. Freezing rain is admittedly one of the hardest weather phenomena to predict, since the conditions at the surface and up in the atmosphere have to be perfect... Just a bit too warm, and it will be just plain rain... Just a bit too cold, and the precipitation stays as sleet or snow. But this setup looks close enough to the sound the alarms yet again for significant icing somewhere in New Jersey.
The forecast South Jersey is admittedly a bit questionable. I have light snow and ice accumulations in the forecast, but the latest high-resolution mesoscale model runs show the overall heaviest bands of precipitation affecting South Jersey this afternoon. It is wholly possible that temperatures will warm enough by that time for most of that precipitation to be rain. But everyone should still be prepared for the freezing rain or snow accumulation setups.
Warnings & Advisories
Following along with the icing potential for Central Jersey, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Cumberland, Cape May and Salem counties from 10 a.m. Sunday through Monday morning. A Winter Weather Advisory for marginal snow and ice accumulation will be in effect for the rest of the state.
It’s definitely one of those winter days where long road trips and unnecessary travel should be avoided, even if you have an all wheel drive vehicle. Even if you do happen to find traction during the peak of the storm, the number of accidents and the miserable road conditions will likely keep your drive very slow.
The precipitation will likely be done falling by Monday morning, but untreated roads (secondary and neighborhood streets in particular) could remain very slippery through the morning commute. This would be especially true if the significant icing situation materializes in your neighborhood.
As always, New Jersey 101.5 Instant Weather and Fast Traffic will have full coverage of this storm before, during, and after it gets bad. I say it every time one of these potentially significant winter storms aims for New Jersey... Be safe and, more importantly, be smart!