Please chill out about Thursday night’s snow – just a few flakes for NW NJ
Holy. Guacamole. Some of the headlines and hype out there surrounding our next storm system are just nuts! As the headline of this article suggests, let's please take a meteorological "chill pill" and take a deep breath. Yes, on the backside of Thursday's rain, we could see a brief period of light snow in northwestern New Jersey. But as I've discussed for days, the timing of the cold air just isn't right to produce any substantial accumulations.
Let me re-state the same bottom line I have promoted for several days now: No travel issues are expected. It's all about the big chill.
No weather issues are in Wednesday's forecast. It will be about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than Tuesday, with highs in the lower to mid 50s. Bright sunshine, dry air, dry weather, light winds. Wear a jacket, and you'll be just fine.
Wednesday night will be chilly, and maybe even frosty in spots (especially away from the Jersey Shore). Low temperatures will be prevented from falling below the 35 to 40 degree range by increasing clouds (after about midnight).
Thursday looks increasingly wet, the precursor to a cold front that will eventually pass through New Jersey at night. I've had to slide the rainfall timing a bit earlier, given the latest model trends. Rainfall totals will likely end up around a quarter-inch, pretty healthy. This forecast will play out in three parts:
1.) Scattered rain showers may encroach upon the western and northern edges from Thursday late morning through Thursday afternoon.
2.) Then, a period of steadier rain becomes likely for the entire state Thursday evening.
3.) Then, temperatures tumble quickly, as most of New Jersey potentially falls below freezing Friday morning.
Now, here's the thing. There's a good chance that Phase 2 and Phase 3 overlap. In other words, temperatures will start to fall before precipitation ends completely. Therefore, I'm comfortable with a forecast calling for a brief period of light snow at the tail-end of this storm system, right around 10 p.m. Thursday. We're really eyeballing NW NJ for those snowflakes — let's include parts of Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, and Passaic counties in that definition. Farther south, it just looks too warm to see snowflakes.
There have been a couple of model runs suggesting about an inch of snow accumulation in Sussex County. Even some of my meteorological colleagues briefly latched on to that idea. However, I'm still leaning hard toward no substantial accumulation and no travel issues.
Our bigger weather story, by far, is the very cold and dry air mass arriving Friday, making for a mid-winter-ish chill. Morning lows may dip below freezing, for all but the coast. Afternoon highs only in the lower 40s. Those temperatures would be near-normal in late December or mid-February — take your pick!
But the chilly temps don't even tell the entire story for Friday. I'm seeing blustery conditions too, with a northwesterly wind sustained at 15 to 25 mph and gusts to 40 mph. That will put wind chills ("feels like" temperatures) firmly in the 20s in the morning and 30s in the afternoon. Bundle up! (Hey, at least skies will be mostly sunny.)
The unseasonably cold temperatures will carry into the the weekend too.
Saturday will probably see widespread 20s in the morning, followed by highs only again stuck in the 40s. Winds will be much lighter, with early sunshine and late clouds.
On Sunday, temperatures will moderate some, as winds flip to southwesterly. Highs should rebound to the lower to (maybe) mid 50s. Early clouds will give way to sunshine.
New Jersey's next next storm system is set to arrive early next week, in the Monday-Tuesday time frame. It's still too early to lay out a timeline or layout timing details — mainly because there is no consensus among the guidance, neither from model to model, nor from run to run. (At the moment, the GFS paints a pretty snowy picture for NJ from Monday night through Tuesday. The Euro is more of a rain/snow mix. Both solutions presently include potential snow accumulations for the Garden State.)
For now, I'll maintain that early next week is worth watching. Definitely interesting. And potentially messy. (Oh boy!)