The Bottom Line
We sure have had a lot of wind and wild temperature swings lately. It will be nice to catch our breath with a pleasant, quiet, bright, mild President's Day Monday.
Especially since our next storm system rolls in Tuesday. With temperatures in the 50s for the duration, this is 100 percent going to be a rainmaker for New Jersey. I don't see any risk of flooding or severe weather — just wet and a bit windy.
Wednesday will be the warmest day of the week, before colder air returns on Thursday. That cooldown will set the scene for our next next storm system, arriving Thursday into Friday. That one looks messy, with a progression from snow to ice to rain. It's still too early to talk about potential accumulations and impacts — but we'll be talking a lot about this one through the rest of the week.
Happy President's Day! This should be New Jersey's nicest weather day of the week. (Although not the warmest.)
We are off to a chilly start, with temperatures averaging 20s. (A little colder to the northwest, a bit warmer along the southern coast.) But we'll warm up quickly, with afternoon highs in the lower to mid 50s. Mostly sunny skies, dry weather, light winds — not a complaint to be found here.
Clouds will start to increase just after sunset Monday evening. Dense fog is also a possibility overnight, as humidity levels increase on an east-southeast breeze. Low temperatures will generally fall into the upper 30s to lower 40s. Far northern New Jersey will be the cold spot, as usual, close to the freezing mark.
Turning wet. But temperatures will still run well above-normal for February.
Tuesday's highs will push even warmer than Monday, into the mid to upper 50s. There could be a hit-or-miss shower in the morning. And then more widespread scattered rain will arrive in the afternoon.
The heaviest rain of the day will push through New Jersey Tuesday evening through the overnight. But in terms of rain, we're not talking about anything too "bonkers". Total rainfall will range from about a quarter-inch in South Jersey to upwards of an inch in North Jersey.
Wind could become a marginal problem. We'll progress from breezy (gusts to 20 mph) during the day, to windy (gusts to 40 mph) at night.
Rain will wrap up sometime Wednesday morning. Exactly what time depends upon which model you believe. The GFS dries out NJ by around 9 a.m. But the NAM and the Euro put showers over the state through about lunchtime.
In any case, we'll get partial clearing Wednesday afternoon. And downright warm temperatures. Look for highs in the mid 60s — 20+ degrees above seasonal norms.
Our next cooldown arrives Wednesday night, as a gusty wind pushes thermometers below freezing again.
Thursday & Friday
A wintry chill returns to end the workweek. And we have a risk for snowy, icy, and/or wet weather too.
High temperatures on Thursday will only reach the upper 30s. Friday will be similar — maybe a few degrees warmer to the south. Baseline, skies will be mostly cloudy.
In addition, a low pressure system will ride past New Jersey in the Thursday to Friday time frame. At this point, model guidance shows a wide variety of storm tracks and intensities. And the forecast continues to waffle back and forth between wintry-for-all and wet-for most.
At this point, let's play the "what we know" game with a few broad bullet points.
1.) Every major model run over the last day has shown impacts (snow, ice, and/or rain) for all 21 counties of NJ. I do not see a "total miss" happening. (This is not a coastal storm, so it does not have a clear escape route out to sea.)
2.) The storm is going to tap into some rich moisture, an important ingredient for precipitation. Some QPF (Qualitative Precipitation Forecast) estimates have gone as high as 1.5 inches. If temperatures are cold enough, that would result in quite a bit of snow.
3.) But temperatures are dubious. At the surface, precipitation will start with temps in the mid 30s. Aloft, warmer temperatures will invade the mid-atmosphere for a good part of the storm. That seems to be why models are leaning more toward an icy mix than straight snow for most of the state.
4.) The peak of the storm looks to be Thursday night through early Friday morning, although that is subject to "wiggle" based on the storm's forecast track, speed, and intensity.
5.) North Jersey will be the snow "bullseye" of this storm. If it stays all snow, double-digit snow totals would be possible — a high impact winter weather event. Meanwhile, the southern half of the state could see mainly (or all) rain. Much less impactful for travel.
In other words, it's complicated. And potentially messy. Obviously, we'll continue to refine and dial in this forecast over the coming days.
So when will we know more? On Tuesday, we're start getting a sense for overall impacts and potential hazards. (Although Tuesday's rainmaker storm system will limit our resolution on the late-week storm.) On Wednesday, we'll have to start talking about timing and totals details. And it may not be until Wednesday evening or Thursday morning that we get a confident sense of how the storm system will play out, hour-by-hour and town-by-town.
Behind the storm, bitter cold and quiet weather resumes for the final weekend of February.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.