Winter Weather Advisory: messy weather today through Thursday
A messy and complicated winter weather situation is setting up for New Jersey over the next several days, starting with a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain this afternoon.
Here are your weather headlines for Tuesday, March 3, 2015...
Part 1: Wintry Mix
As a storm system arrives this afternoon, we expect wintry precipitation to fall across most of New Jersey. It is likely to start as snow, but eventually mix and/or transition to sleet and freezing rain. Unfortunately, the timing of this snowy, icy weather is poor, as it will coincide with the evening commute.
The forecast is very complicated as warmer air will arrive this evening and overnight. Temperatures will rise first way up in the atmosphere, so that's why the sleet and freezing rain scenarios are part of this forecast. Up to 3 inches of snow and sleet accumulation is possible in the coldest part of the state, North Jersey (say, along and above Interstate 78). But even light ice and snow accumulations would make for a disgusting mess on the roads this evening, no matter where you are.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for most of the state starting at 3 p.m. today. It's just an advisory, not a warning at this time. That is intended to cause you to perk up your ears and pay attention, especially since the wintry weather is likely to directly affect this evening's commute.
Part 2: Rain
As temperatures continue to warm both aloft (up in the atmosphere) and at the surface, the precipitation will eventually change over to all rain overnight. And with high temperatures on Wednesday between 42° and 48°, that's the way it will stay.
There is a possibility for a few heavier pockets of rain to move through at some point tomorrow, reducing visibilities. I'm even more concerned about the flooding potential. We'll see rapid snow and ice melt in the rain and warm temperatures tomorrow. But storm drains and waterways across New Jersey are still thoroughly clogged with ice. So as water backs up, we could experience some significant ponding on roadways, and maybe some river flooding as well.
Part 3: Snow
Wednesday night into Thursday looks to be the most significant part of this week's messy weather. A cold front will push through New Jersey around Midnight on Thursday morning, and so temperatures will drop quickly. Meanwhile, a disturbance riding along that front will push more precipitation toward New Jersey. And as temperatures fall below freezing (again, both aloft and at the surface), the primary precipitation type will be snow. The models are in pretty good agreement at this point that we'll see some bands of moderate to heavy snow through the day on Thursday.
So yes, we'll close out this period of busy, messy weather with accumulating snow. Several inches of accumulation, in fact. I'm a bit tentative about giving a definitive snow total forecast at this point, especially since the headline of today's forecast needs to be today's wintry mess. But the National Weather Service has put out a forecast of 4 to 6 inches for almost the entire state from now through Thursday night, with pockets of 6 to 8 inches. Sounds reasonable, for now. We'll see how the forecast evolves over the next 12 to 24 hours.
Messy weather can easily become dangerous weather, especially for overconfident and inexperienced drivers. As always, we will provide regular updates on the forecast and any deteriorating weather and road conditions, both on-air and online.