NJ weather: Weekend will be bookended by messy rain/snow storms
UPDATE... This article is outdated...
For the latest storm forecast information, please refer to my newest weather blog post.
—The latest forecast has trended a bit warmer for Friday and Friday night, limiting snow even more than we have talked about previously.
—I have shrunk the "snow zone" on my final forecast map. Highest totals, on the order of 4", 5", or even 6" will be limited to the highest elevations of North Jersey.
—Accordingly, the National Weather Service canceled the Winter Weather Advisory for Hunterdon and Somerset counties.
—During the brunt of the storm Friday evening, upper-air temperatures will be below freezing (statewide). But at the surface, mid 30s to lower 40s. How much snow can really fall and stick if it's that warm?
—One more round of widespread snow and wintry mix still looking likely as the storm winds down Saturday morning.
—Wind kicks up Saturday afternoon, driving a round of minor coastal flooding at high tide.
—The next next storm system still bears watching, in the Sunday night to Monday time frame. While I am leaning away from the worst-case "blizzard" scenario, accumulating snow is back on the table.
—While a hit-or-miss shower may creep into southwestern New Jersey Friday morning, it will be primarily quiet and mostly cloudy. We are starting the day with temperatures near the freezing mark, averaging lower 30s.
—High temperatures Friday midday will reach the mid 40s. A bit cooler in North Jersey, but still above the freezing mark.
—Rain will really spread in from Friday midday to afternoon. Limited snow and wintry mix is possible to the northwest (north of I-78 or I-80, west of I-287).
—The brunt of the storm — with pockets of heavy stuff — will kick in between dinnertime and Midnight Friday evening.
—We will catch a lull, with drier air and lighter precipitation after Midnight, into early Saturday morning.
—After about 3 or 4 a.m. Saturday morning, the freezing line will drop south. So more and more of New Jersey will mix with or flip to snow or a wintry mix through the morning.
—Final snowflakes and raindrops will come around Saturday midday for most of the state. (Some showers may linger a bit longer to the north and east.)
—Wind gusts to 30+ mph are possible for a few hours as the storm wraps up into Saturday afternoon. That will accompany a round of minor category coastal flooding at high tide along the Jersey Shore.
Accumulations & Impacts
Given the latest guidance, I was very tempted to bump my max contour down, from 3-6" to something like 2-4". However, I've come to the conclusion that there is a reasonable chance for overperformance if surface temperatures crash enough in North Jersey to allow for a band or two of heavy snow. This storm system will produce mainly snow in NW NJ, after all.
I did compress my snow contours a bit. The area where roads will be slushy or icy will be very limited. (Along and north of I-80, perhaps?) Remember: Most of NJ stays wet.
The best chance for widespread slushy spots and reduced visibility will be during the grand finale round of wintry mix Saturday morning. Again, don't expect much. But it might feel a bit wintry through central New Jersey through lunchtime.
A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for the following NJ counties for the following times:
—1 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday... Morris, Sussex, and Warren.
—6 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday... Bergen, western Essex, and Passaic.
Note: Hunterdon and Somerset counties were removed from the advisory early Friday morning, as snowfall is expected to stay well below 3" there.
Double note: In the Poconos of NE Pennsylvania, a more serious warning is in effect for Monroe and Pike counties. That's pretty close.
After the Storm
Skies will be slow to clear Saturday afternoon and evening. And we'll likely feel a few hours of gusty winds, perhaps over 30 mph. That's not strong enough to ring alarm bells, but it will be noticeable and blustery.
Coastal flooding is also likely. All tide gauges along the Jersey Shore are expected to top minor flood stage at high tide Saturday afternoon (more like evening for back bays and tributaries). Only that one high tide cycle is a concern at this time.
High temperatures Saturday will reach the 40s outside the "snow zone". A freeze is likely Saturday night, so watch for icy spots.
Sunday daytime will be quiet. Skies will transition from sun back to clouds. High temperatures will end up just shy of normal in the mid 40s.
The Next One
For several days now, we have been watching another storm system — a potential nor'easter — for the Sunday night to Monday time frame. Unfortunately, we are no closer to a definitive forecast on that one — confidence is still low.
I strongly subscribe to a "one storm at a time" philosophy. Especially in the winter. Not only because communicating multiple storm threats at a time is confusing and often counterproductive. But also because our forecast models have a tough time handling multiple instances of active weather. (It's an instance of the "butterfly effect" — if the short-range forecast is even slightly off, the medium to long range outlook will be very wrong.)
As I detailed on Thursday, there are several scenarios on the table for early next week. Ranging from a light rain event, to another snow-north rain-south system, to a real snow bomb.
I am leaning away from the "worst case" blizzard scenario. Especially given how this winter season has gone so far. But accumulating snow is absolutely still on the table for early next week. (The latest run of the operational Euro pumped out over a foot of snow in North Jersey — yikes!)
I'm in a tough spot because I don't have many definitive details to share right now. I can tell you initial precipitation begins sometime Sunday night, likely peaking in intensity during the daytime hours on Monday. The rest — precipitation type, accumulations, impacts, etc. — is highly track and temperatures dependent.
When will we be able to say more? Saturday. Winter storm #1 will be wrapping up. And models will have a full sampling of the incoming storm system, so we should have a good idea of how the forecast is trending.
I strongly recommend you keep an eye on the forecast through the weekend, so you know what to expect on Monday.
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend. "Spring Ahead" your clocks before bed on Saturday night. Sunrise and sunset will be after 7 o'clock next week.
Double reminder: The first day of Spring is just 10 days away.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.