Another round of major snow, rain, and wind is aiming for the Garden State on Wednesday.

1.) Setup

Active weather begets active weather. It's not totally surprising that we have a second nor'easter in the works after Friday's wild, wintry mess. The dominant storm track remains in the same area, so storms just keep following the atmospheric highway.

NAM model precipitation type forecast as the brunt of the storm begins Wednesday afternoon. (College of DuPage Meteorology)
NAM model precipitation type forecast as the brunt of the storm begins Wednesday afternoon. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

As I mentioned in Monday morning's blog, this is a complicated yet common winter storm setup:
1.) Area of low pressure (storm system) moves in from the west.
2.) Secondary low forms off the Carolina coast and moves north-northeast, paralleling the coast.
3.) These two low pressures "phase" or "merge".
4.) Coastal low becomes the primary, strengthening dramatically.

The end result will be a band of heavy snowfall from New Jersey to New England. (More on that in a minute...)

2.) Timeline

Not much has changed here. First snowflakes and raindrops will be late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning. Peak snowfall will be Wednesday afternoon and evening. (Wednesday's evening rush hour will probably be a nightmare.) Storm starts to taper off Wednesday night, with lingering showers through Thursday morning.

3.) Snow Totals

Wednesday's snow forecast, as of Monday evening.
Wednesday's snow forecast, as of Monday evening.

After reviewing all the latest model data, I really have no hesitation in posting big snow totals for interior New Jersey. All the ingredients seem to be coming together for double-digit snowfall for part of the state. (As you may know, I prefer to play these things on the conservative, non-hype side. Not this time!)

Storms like this pose a significant challenge, as the exact track of the storm up the Atlantic seaboard dictates the exact temperatures. And the exact temperatures (both at the surface and up in the atmosphere) obviously dictate precipitation type.

Areas along and north/west of the NJ Turnpike are most likely going to see at least a half-foot of snow. Some part of northern New Jersey will have a chance at another foot-plus of fresh snowfall.

Somewhere... There will be a line between "feast" and "famine". A sharp cutoff between significant-snow and hardly-any-snow. And the latest models show that line will fall right over New Jersey. Super.

Along the Jersey Shore, temperatures are going to struggle to stay cold enough to sustain all snow. Just like Friday, we'll see pockets of wintry mix and snow, but rain is probably going to be the predominant precipitation type for coastal counties. Hence, lower totals for now.

4.) Winter Storm Watch

In anticipation of the heavy snow along and north/west of the NJ Turnpike corridor, the National Weather Service has expanded their Winter Storm Watch into part of South Jersey.

Current advisories from the National Weather Service. Blue=Winter Storm Watch, Green=Coastal Flood Advisory
Current advisories from the National Weather Service. Blue=Winter Storm Watch, Green=Coastal Flood Advisory

--From 7 p.m. Tuesday to 3 a.m. Thursday for northwestern Burlington Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, inland Monmouth, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties.
--From Midnight Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday for Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties.

Remember, a watch serves as a heads-up of potentially hazardous snow totals within 24 to 48 hours. We'll likely see an upgrade to warnings (with additional advisories issued too) sometime on Tuesday.

5.) Wind

As parts of New Jersey are still in the dark after Friday's storm, the clock is racing to get power restored in time for this next weathermaker.

The good news? Wind gusts are not expected to be as fierce this time around.

The bad news? It's still going to be windy. Expect gusts between 30-40 mph inland, and 40-50 mph along the coast. Trees and the power infrastructure are already weak, so I fear more sporadic power outages are possible from this storm due to wind and heavy snow.

6.) Coast

The good news? Again, I like what I see. Coastal flooding threat not as bad this time around.

The bad news? It's certainly not zero. The currently predicted 1-2 feet of surge is enough to cause minor flooding over several high tide cycles.

The peak surge and the highest water level are expected during Wednesday's midday high tide.

7.) What Could Go Wrong?

It's very important to stress that this forecast is subject to change. Strike that — this forecast will change as the storm gets closer, and we get more resolution on where the precise storm track will end up.

If the storm track wiggles west (further inland), the heaviest snow bands will push into Pennsylvania. The NJ coast may not see a single flake of snow, as precipitation stays all rain.

If the storm track wiggles east (further out-to-sea), the entire state of New Jersey will be buried under a foot of snow.

If we get dry-slotted — meaning an area of dry, sinking air — snow totals will severely underperform.

As always, lots to think about and analyze.

8.) So What?

I think the time has come to check your supplies in advance of this potentially significant winter storm. Salt, shovels, gasoline, batteries, medication, diapers, pet food, etc. Go ahead and buy your bread, milk, eggs, and alcohol too if you so desire.

While the details of this forecast remain low confidence, it's becoming more and more certain that we've got (another) big storm coming on Wednesday. Travel will be difficult, if not impossible, during the peak of the storm from Wednesday afternoon through Wednesday evening. School closings, delays, early dismissals, and cancellations are likely from Wednesday to Thursday (and maybe Friday too if extended cleanup is required).

As my paternity leave comes to an end, I will return to full-strength forecasting on Tuesday. In addition to on-air updates every 15 minutes, you can expect twice-daily weather blog updates on Tuesday and Wednesday — one by 7 a.m. and another by 5 p.m.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.

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