Wintry and wet Wednesday for NJ: Periods of snow, sleet, and rain
The Bottom Line
It's not going to be a very pleasant day across New Jersey.
As of this writing (6 a.m.), the first precipitation bands of the day have arrived. And, right on cue, it's been mainly snow in North Jersey and pouring rain in South Jersey so far.
Accumulations will be very limited, due primarily to above-freezing temperatures at the surface. The best chance of snow actually piling up will be 1.) North Jersey, 2.) higher elevations, and 3.) grassy, colder surfaces. It will be slushy and wet. (Keep in mind, of course, that any heavier snow band could overcome the warm ground and put down a quick coating regardless.)
It's not a major winter storm. But still watch for slippery spots and pockets of low visibility.
—Start... First bands of snow/rain already arrived, just before sunrise Wednesday morning.
—Peak... Wednesday mid-morning to midday, around 8 a.m. to Noon. That is expected to be the period of most widespread, heaviest precipitation. It's also the greatest potential for wintry weather.
—Tapering... Things will start to dial back by mid-afternoon.
—End... Final snowflakes and raindrops may not come until just after sunset Wednesday evening. This is an all-day affair.
Traditionally, I do not issue an updated snowfall/impacts map once a storm has started. However, I think we're still early enough in this event that it's still relevant. And I have ramped up forecast snow totals a bit, concerned about snow overperformance. (One heavy snow band could cause a quick flip from wet to wintry.)
—Far North Jersey (I-80 corridor)... With temperatures close to the freezing mark, what falls from the sky to the north will be almost all snowflakes. (Maybe some sleet mixed in during the afternoon hours.) Especially on hilltops (elevation 1,000+ feet), we could see upwards of 3 or 4 inches of snow. (Note: Some models show even higher amounts in this area, but 6-8" seems unrealistic given the dubious temperature profile and low snow ratio.)
—North-Central Jersey (I-78 to I-195 corridor)... The day will be more wintry than wet, but it will be a true mixed bag of precipitation. There is a chance for a heavier snow band here, which is why I bumped potential snowfall to an inch or two. Roads will probably remain just plain wet.
—South-Central Jersey (I-195 to ACE corridor)... You may catch a period of snow or sleet at some point, but rain will be the primary precipitation type here. I've included a "just in case" chance of a dusting of snow. But keep your expectations low.
—Southern-Coastal Jersey... Temperatures are near 40 degrees to start Wednesday. And that's where thermometers will stay. So it's going to be very hard to see anything other than plain rain.
I think it's telling that we've had zero school closings and delays reported so far.
And the Winter Weather Advisory includes only the highest elevation area of the state. Sussex and western Passaic counties fall under the advisory until 7 p.m. That corner of New Jersey is the most likely to see 3+ inches of snow accumulation and treacherous travel conditions.
It will be an inclement, yucky, raw day. With some minor travel headaches. Stay extra alert to changing weather conditions.
Clouds will start to break apart Wednesday night. With low temperatures near 30 degrees, I don't think it's going to get cold enough for long enough to warrant concerns over a "flash freeze".
Thursday and Friday look fine. Probably more clouds than sun. Maybe a stray rain shower. And seasonable-or-better high temperatures near 50 degrees.
Our next storm system is set to arrive on Saturday. And this one looks pretty powerful and impactful. A strong cold front will sweep through the state Saturday morning. While we'll start the day with soaking rain, that will transition to all snow by the afternoon as temperatures plummet. Even though these cold front overrunning events usually produce unimpressive snow totals, we could see a few inches of accumulation if it comes down heavy enough.
Another concern for late-day Saturday will be a gusty wind kicking up. Maybe as strong as 50 mph? With newly refreshed cold air, that also raises concern for bitter wind chills.
Sunday is going to be cold. Period, full stop. Teens in the morning. (Wind chills probably no better than the single digits.) Highs will barely reach above freezing in the mid to upper 30s.
Temperatures should moderate quickly for early next week, with generally quiet weather for the last full week of winter.
Be smart and stay safe out there Wednesday. Our weather, traffic, and news teams will keep you updated on the latest developments until the final flakes fly.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.