A White Christmas might be merry and bright, but this year's holiday promises to bring some sloppy, blustery weather to the Garden State.

Dashing through the snow,
On the Garden State Parkway,
Through the tolls we'll go,
Screaming and cursing all the way...

For the first time in a few years, we've got a shot of snow on Christmas in New Jersey. Not everyone in the state will see snowflakes, and even fewer will see snow accumulation. But those that do could have a rough time traveling by road, rail, and air to go over the river and through the woods. And the ensuing cold and wind will make for an uncomfortable, blustery end to the holiday... and the year.

Timeline

The daytime hours of Christmas Eve (Sunday) will be mostly quiet, with just a few sprinkles and flurries around.

Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, our storm system will begin spreading showers south to north across the Garden State. It should be raining or snowing across most of New Jersey by Midnight. Initial precipitation should be all rain for most of the state. North of I-80, we're probably looking at an all snow/ice event.

As temperatures fluctuate near the freezing mark, light-to-moderate rain may transition to light-to-moderate snow and vice versa through the overnight hours. One model (the NAM) paints a period of sleet/freezing rain in North Jersey around 5 a.m. Sunday, which could produce a dangerous glaze of ice.

There will be a brief moment around sunrise Sunday (7 a.m.) when temperatures may be cold enough to sustain snow through central and maybe southern New Jersey. Starting around 8 a.m. Sunday, precipitation will start wrapping up across the state.

Accumulations

Remember: the technical definition of a "White Christmas" requires one inch of snow on the ground on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Only far North Jersey has a chance of hitting this criteria.

An inch or two of snow accumulation and a glaze of ice will be possible for the area along and north of Interstate 80. This includes Sussex, Warren, northern Morris, northern Passaic, and northern Bergen counties.

A coating to a half-inch of snow and a trace of ice is forecast for the area between Interstate 80 and Interstate 78. This incorporates the rest of the Winter Weather Advisory area (see below).

A dusting of snow is possible as far south as Mercer and Middlesex counties.

A few snowflakes will be possible for the rest of the state. (Even that might be difficult for South Jersey and along the coast.) Accumulation is not expected.

Note: This is, overall, a minor winter weather event. Therefore, because my forecast calls for snow totals below 2 inches, I am not drawing a snowfall forecast map. The only reason this forecast deserves special attention is the holiday — traffic will be heavier than usual, and services (including plowing and salting) may be less readily available than normal.

Winter Weather Advisory

Weather advisories from the National Weather Service. (Purple=Winter Weather Advisory, Tan=Wind Advisory)

Because of the probability of reduced visibility and slippery roads during and after the storm, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for 8 counties in North Jersey:
--7 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday... Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties
--6 p.m. Sunday to 1 p.m. Monday... Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union counties

Baby It's Cold Outside

After the snow and rain will come the wind. Gusts on Christmas Day will likely exceed 40 mph across most of New Jersey. Peak winds will occur Monday: from mid-morning through the early evening hours.

Combined with falling temperatures, be prepared to do some serious bundling by the end of the holiday weekend.

High temperatures on Sunday (Christmas Eve) will be in the 40s. Expect no better than 30s on Monday (Christmas Day). And on Tuesday (Boxing Day) and beyond, we may see high temperatures only in the 20s. That is brutal, bitter cold — especially when combined with the fierce wind.

And the cold will continue, with highs possibly stuck in the 20s all the way through the start of 2018!

Wind Advisory

These strong winds (combined with some snow and ice to the north) may bring down tree limbs and power lines. Christmas decorations may be blown over (or away). And driving may be difficult during the biggest gusts, especially in a high-profile vehicle such as a truck or van.

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for all 21 counties in New Jersey:
--7 a.m. Monday to 2 p.m. Monday... Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties
--6 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Monday... Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union counties

What's Next?

With the sustained cold that will stick around for the next week, any incoming storm would have the potential of producing big snow. The next system of concern passes by in the Friday-Saturday time frame. The GFS and European are in poor agreement at the moment, aside from suggesting it's a situation worth watching. Let's focus on one storm at a time — once we get past the Christmas snow, rain, and wind, we'll focus on what's coming down the 'pike.

Final Thoughts

Batten down the jingle bells, try on the new winter coat you got for Christmas, and keep an eye out for Rudolph's shiny red nose through the rain and snow. You may need to adjust travel plans to avoid the worst of the snow and rain, especially if you're traveling north and/or west. You'll definitely need to bundle up against the arctic cold and wind. But that's about it — as always, as long as you play it smart throughout this minor winter weather event (i.e. don't be stupid) you'll fare just fine.

Whether your opinion of this forecast is Let It Snow! or Bah Humbug... I truly hope you and yours have a merry and safe Christmas holiday!

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