Wintry blast for NJ: Heavy snow, brutal wind, dangerous cold
Blizzard conditions on Thursday will make travel very difficult, if not impossible at times for part of the Garden State.
The snow has begun! Early snow reports out of Atlantic and Cape May counties already show over 3 inches of accumulation, and snow banks are rising rapidly. We've got a long way to go before this burst of wintry weather wraps up — double-digit snowfall is still very much a possibility along the coast.
Please note, it is my personal policy to not issue a new snow total forecast map once snowfall has begun. It gets too confusing and complicated to capture what has already fallen vs. what is yet to come. Rather than digging into the highly detailed, nitty-gritty numbers, I believe pinpointing the timing and overall impacts of the storm are way more important now. My job is almost done at this point — Mother Nature is firmly in the driver's seat!
A Blizzard Warning is now in effect for the Jersey Shore — Monmouth, Ocean, southeastern Burlington, Atlantic, and Cape May counties — until 7 p.m. Thursday evening. (It may be cancelled or downgraded earlier, if conditions improve.) The combination of heavy snow (6 to 10+ inches) and gusty winds (40+ mph) will drive visibility down to near-zero at times.
Further north and west, a Winter Storm Warning has kicked in for what I'm deeming the NJ Turnpike corridor. The warning is in effect for Middlesex, Mercer, northwestern Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland counties until 7 p.m. And for Hudson, eastern Essex, and eastern Union counties, the warning runs through 1 a.m. Friday morning. While the snow in this area has been slow to start, I still think 4+ inches is likely here (including the New York and Philadelphia metro areas).
Northwestern New Jersey, this isn't your storm. A far less urgent and less severe Winter Weather Advisory has been posted for Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris, and Sussex counties until 7 p.m., and for Passaic, Bergen, western Essex, and western Union counties until 1 a.m. Friday.
One more... A cautionary Coastal Flood Advisory has been issued for the Jersey Shore from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. Surge models show the morning high tide cycle to be a half-foot to a foot higher than astronomical tide. That's hardly anything — minor flooding is possible along tidal waterways, but I don't expect any widespread issues from the ocean.
In terms of the timeline, the big snow pileup is just getting started as of this writing. Bands of moderate to heavy snow pushing through the state will make for poor visibility and icy road conditions throughout the morning, with only slow improvements into the early afternoon. Steady snow should clear the Jersey coast by mid-afternoon, around 3 p.m. Lingering snow showers will be possible into Thursday evening, until around 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the wind will increase dramatically through about 8 a.m., with regular gusts to 40 or 50 mph for the rest of the day. As I've already discussed, the combination of snow and wind will cause occasional near white-out conditions. Power outages will be possible too.
In addition, the combination of cold and wind will make for some dangerous conditions after the snow concludes. Thursday night's low temperatures will plummet to about 10 degrees, with a wind chill potentially below zero by Friday morning.
Friday and Saturday are going to be ridiculously, painfully, dangerously cold. With high temperatures only in the teens, wind chills will stay below zero all day long (possible as low as -15 or -20). As the wind (finally) calms down, Sunday morning might bring the coldest temperatures of the winter so far (and the coldest NJ has seen in a very long time) with lows at or below 0 for most of the state.
We can look forward to above-freezing temperatures for early next week, but models have backed off on the upper 40s I previously teased. Even if thermometers only rise to 40 degrees, it would be a nice treat after wild, wintry start to 2018.
Whether you want to call it a blizzard, a nor'easter, a coastal storm, a winter storm, a major winter storm, a snow bomb, or a bomb cyclone... Please take the wintry conditions seriously. Road conditions will only get worse before they get better. Common sense and extra caution will go a long way — you don't want to get stranded or become a victim.
We're camped out at the radio station, dedicated to giving you the latest weather, traffic, and news updates until the final flakes fly. Be smart, be safe, stay warm, and have fun!
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