NJ weather: One mild day Saturday, then rain/snow return Sunday
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Please check Dan Zarrow's Weather Blog for the latest forecast updates on this batch of inclement, potentially wintry weather.
After some soaking rain Friday night, which produced some slippery spots to the northwest, our weather quiets down Saturday. It will be breezy, with substantial breaks of sunshine. And temperatures will be mild, popping into the 50s across the state. (Keep in mind, normal highs are near 40 degrees right now, as we approach the average coldest part of the year.)
But as you know, I don't interrupt vacation and weekend to write an article about beautiful weather. Looking ahead at Sunday, it does not look like a very pleasant day. More specifically, things could get snowy and slippery for part of the state as a coastal storm system slides by.
Start... Initial bands of precipitation will enter southwestern New Jersey just after daybreak Sunday — let's call it 7 a.m. Spreading northward through the entire state by around Noon.
Peak... While I don't see any truly heavy intense precipitation bands coming through New Jersey, I guess you could call the midday hours the "brunt" of the storm system. That will be the best chance for widespread precipitation, including some wintry weather away from the coast.
End... Conditions will slowly improve Sunday evening. Southwestern New Jersey may dry out as early as 5 p.m. The coast may continue to see rain through early Monday morning, around 2 a.m.
Accumulations / Impacts
My rule is to only produce a detailed snow map for moderate or heavy snow events — generally when widespread 3+ inch snow totals are expected. That is not the case this time around, so I've opted for a narrative description of the forecast instead. (Drawing such a map is a very time-intensive process, and opens the door to a whole mess of questions and headaches.)
South and Coast... Atlantic, southeastern Burlington, eastern Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, eastern Gloucester, Monmouth, Ocean, and Salem counties... Rain. Just cold, wet, uncomfortable rain. About a half-inch in the bucket by the end of the day.
The Turnpike Corridor... Bergen, northwestern Burlington, western Camden, Essex, western Gloucester, Hudson, southern Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, eastern Passaic, southern Somerset, and Union counties... Temperatures are going to be right on the freezing line. So, an initial period of wintry mix (snow, sleet, rain) is possible, and may lead to light accumulations (dusting to coating) and slippery spots (especially on untreated roads). By Sunday afternoon, expect a transition to plain rain.
Northwestern New Jersey... Northern Hunterdon, Morris, western Passaic, northern Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties... Here's where things may get dicey during the day Sunday, generally along and north of I-78. A longer period of snow and sleet is expected here, from about late morning through part of the afternoon. An inch or two of accumulation seems like a good bet here. Totals could reach 3 or 4 inches in colder, higher elevation areas. An eventual transition to rain is possible, but not guaranteed.
In most years, I'd say Sunday, January 3rd would be a busy post-holiday travel day. But in the age of COVID, with holiday travel down an estimated 37 percent in New Jersey? Who knows.
For most of the state, travel conditions will be a bit messy Sunday, especially in those spots that do see some wintry mix action. In NW NJ, there may be enough snow on the ground to shovel or even plow — if temperatures stay cold enough for an "all snow" situation. (Doubtful.)
This is definitely not a major bread and milk type of storm. Common sense and extra caution are really all you need here. Roads and weather should be clear by Monday morning.
Quiet weather prevails for the first workweek of 2021, with dry weather, partial sunshine, and seasonable 40-degree temperatures. Our pattern looks to turn more active again around next weekend, with various models showing a few storm opportunities through the middle of January.