Blizzard conditions expected tonight; state of emergency declared
Our first major winter storm of the season is expected to bury New Jersey in snow tonight, with up to 2 feet of accumulation expected under blizzard conditions. Gov. Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency in anticipation.
The snowflakes have begun flying in New Jersey, and a slow increase in intensity will peak with blizzard conditions late tonight. As we have been discussing all weekend, snow accumulations from New Jersey through New York City, Long Island, and New England will be measured in feet instead of inches. Even the National Weather Service has called this storm a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard".
Here’s our latest forecast for this winter storm:
Here's everything you need to know about the forecast for the impending blizzard...
The first snowflakes arrived last night, but the initial bands of snow, wintry mix, and rain have been very light. In fact, through the daytime hours today, the snow won’t be *that* bad. Bands of light to moderate snow could make for a tricky but manageable morning commute, and we could have icy conditions and accumulations of up to 3 inches by the evening commute. If you can leave work or school early today, that would be a very wise decision.
The issues will escalate significantly after sunset tonight, through the overnight hours, into Tuesday morning. Bands of very heavy snow - over an inch an hour - are expected, along with winds gusts up to about 50 MPH.
The technical definition of a "blizzard" according to the National Weather Service says a storm must have:
- sustained wind or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater
- falling and/or blowing snow
- frequently reduced visibility to less than 1/4
- a duration of 3 hours or longer
That’s right - a textbook blizzard technically has more to do with visibility than with snow totals or temperatures.
Blizzard conditions are expected through the worst part of the storm, and so the NWS has issued a Blizzard Warning for Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties from Monday afternoon until Tuesday night. (I would expect the warning to be cancelled early if blizzard conditions subside.) This area of the state is on the edge of the overall bullseye of the storm, which extends northeastward through New York City, Long Island, and New England. This area of New Jersey will likely net 18 to 24 inches of new snow, in addition to experiencing near-zero visibilities. Travel will be next to impossible during and after the height of the storm.
The rest of the state is under a less-intense-but-still-hazardous Winter Storm Warning. With much of that area prone to receive a foot of snow or more, and similar wind gusts to the blizzard area, it’s still going to be a very significant winter event statewide.
18 to 24 inches of snow is expected for Northeast New Jersey through Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. 12 to 18 inches of snow is expected a bit further west. And along the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay, the forecast is for 6 to 12 inches of snow.
You read that right - everywhere and everyone in the state should expect to see no less than 6 inches of snow from this storm. Beyond that point, semantics and details don’t matter... the state will be buried in snow by Tuesday morning.
One of the challenges of this storm will be the fierce wind which will be gusting to about 50 MPH. That will keep the snow constantly blowing around, therefore keeping visibility very low through the entire storm. Snow drifts will be impressive, and likely will be measured in feet. In addition, the strong winds and heavy snow increase the risk for power outages, which would make a bad situation even worse without power, light, and heat.
A Coastal Flood Warning is in effect from Monday evening through late Monday night, calling for "moderate" flooding along all coastal areas of New Jersey. Of particular concern is the high tide that will occur just after midnight early Tuesday morning. According to the National Weather Service, the following peak tides are predicted:
- Sandy Hook: High tide occurs at 1:07 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level of 7.5 to 8.0 feet above mean lower low water.
- Seaside Heights: High tide occurs at 12:37 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level near 7.0 feet above mean lower low water.
- Atlantic City: High tide occurs at 12:50 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level near 7.0 feet above mean lower low water.
- Cape May: High tide occurs at 1:24 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level 7.5 to 8.0 feet above mean lower low water.
This level of flooding will flood numerous roadways that are especially prone to coastal floods. Some property damage and moderate beach erosion are also possible, according to the NWS.
If you haven’t stocked up on supplies yet, it may be too late as grocery stores across New Jersey are likely running very low on their inventory of "bread and milk". French toast supplies aside, it’s important to realize this is a significant weather event, and no one should be caught unaware or surprised. Take precautions now, such as purchasing food, getting gas for snowblowers and vehicles, and canceling or postponing travel plans for Monday night and possibly Tuesday.
Tracking the Storm
The entire New Jersey 101.5 and NJ101.5 team is on the job, covering this storm from top to bottom, inside-out and backwards, on-air and online. We’ll keep you updated with the latest forecasts and advisories leading up to the storm… The weather conditions during the peak of the storm… And information on cleanup and lasting impacts afterwards too.
We cover New Jersey. Not New York. Not Philadelphia. And we will continue to strive to be your best source of accurate, up-to-the-minute New Jersey winter storm information.