Winter Storm Warning: ‘significant’ snow expected tonight through tomorrow
Even though Wednesday will be rainy and mild, colder air and snow arrives tonight with widespread 6+ inch snow totals in New Jersey.
As expected, the National Weather Service has upgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning for most of the state (from Hunterdon, Somerset, and Union counties southward). With the entire state under the gun for about 6 inches of snow, this storm looks to have significant travel impacts for all New Jerseyans.
Despite the snow and ice on the ground, New Jersey is on the warm side of the world at the moment. With high temperatures today between 40° and 45°, anything that falls from the sky is expected to be rain. I don’t think the day will be a total wash-out; expect periods of rain along with occasional periods of dry. Any rainfall could be moderate to heavy in intensity, reducing visibilities at least temporarily. I also remain a bit concerned about minor flooding, as many storm drains, rivers, streams, and creeks across the state remain clogged with ice and snow.
So your morning commute will have some icy spots and some light rain and wintry mix, but will otherwise be OK. And you might see some rain (possibly heavy) for your evening commute, but it won’t be nearly as treacherous as yesterday.
As a cold front slowly passes through New Jersey tonight, temperatures will start falling and rain will start transitioning to wintry precipitation. First sleet/snow and then eventually all snow. It’s hard to nail down exact timing, but luckily there is decent model agreement here. The changeover from rain to sleet/snow will occur as early as 7 p.m. in far North Jersey, and as late as 4 a.m. in far South Jersey. So there will be plenty of time to accumulate that snow by tomorrow morning.
The snow continues pretty much all day on Thursday - I expect many schools and businesses to close for the day. Between 7 p.m. and Midnight tomorrow, the snow will finally taper off and then end.
As long as that aforementioned cold front does not slow or stall, our snow accumulation forecast is looking good. Since yesterday evening, I bumped up my snow forecast slightly for Central Jersey, nudged down my forecast for North Jersey, and realigned my snow forecast contour for South Jersey.
A large swath of the central part of the state does look to be the “sweet spot” for this particular snow storm, with 6 to 9 inches expected from about Interstate 78 down through the Pine Barrens and along the entire NJ Turnpike corridor. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few double-digit snow totals in this zone.
The area north of Interstate 78 may miss out on the heavy snow amounts, with only 3 to 6 inches expected there. (That’s good news for North Jersey, since there's still a foot of snow on the ground from previous winter storms.)
For far South Jersey and along the coast, temperatures may stay above freezing for a little bit longer, and so I’ve kept snow totals a bit lower than for the central part of the state. I’ve posted 4 to 6 inches of snow for Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic, and coastal Ocean counties. The National Weather Service’s latest forecast admittedly calls for 6 to 8 inches here, with pockets up to 10 inches. Wow. I’m uncomfortable going that high for South Jersey. Again, I’m worried that if the front stalls, the precipitation will stay mostly rain through mid to late morning on Thursday (or maybe even later). That would cut down on the snow totals dramatically.
Skies will clear quickly Thursday night. By Friday morning, we’ll see mostly sunny skies. But the arctic air also looks to return for Friday, with low temperatures dipping well into the teens (with some single digits in North Jersey). Highs on Friday are expected to only reach the mid 20s. Consider that New Jersey's normal high for this time of year is about 47° or 48°, and the normal low right now is 29° to 30°. Yup, we’ll definitely describe Friday as very cold.
Luckily, the downright frigid temperatures are temporary. Highs on Saturday will climb to the mid 30s, and we’ll see some 40s on Sunday. The better news is that - finally - our weather becomes quiet for an entire week. The next storm system doesn’t look to affect us until next Thursday!
The snow on the way for tonight and tomorrow is no joke. Confidence is fairly high that significant snow will affect a majority of New Jersey. Be safe and be smart. And be sure to check back here for the latest news, weather, traffic, and closings information.