Tuesday NJ weather: Weak cold front sparks cooldown and light snow
The Bottom Line
Tuesday wraps up what will likely become New Jersey's warmest January on record. Each and every day of the month — without exception — saw an average temperature at or above the long-term average. That is pretty astounding. And probably not surprising, given our almost-complete lack of snow and recent stretch of 50s.
With February in sight, we have two cooldowns to talk about this week. The first has already started to arrive Tuesday morning. It will be an unsettled day, with spotty snow and rain showers around, as cooler air takes hold.
The next arctic blast will be even more significant. Blustery Friday. Frigid Saturday. We could even enter dangerous cold territory for a time, as the wind chill drops below zero. Brrr.
A weak cold front — the leading edge of a cooler air mass — entered North Jersey early Tuesday morning. And through about midday, it will sag southward. And that will bring two weather impacts to the Garden State. First, a round of spotty rain and snow showers. And second, temperatures will be muffled, held much cooler than the past few days.
Any rain and snow that drifts from north to south early Tuesday should be on the light side. I have seen reports that a dusting of snow and sleet is making things a little slick along and north of Interstate 80 to start the day. However, I expect most impacts to remain very minor. Total rainfall statewide will stay below a tenth of an inch.
By Tuesday afternoon, showers will be limited to the southern half of the state. Skies will stay pretty grey, with peeks of sun possible only to the northwest.
Although temperatures have been in the 40s Tuesday morning, thermometers should settle around 35 to 40 degrees in the afternoon. A chilly moderate breeze will remind you of our newfound chill.
The last interesting wrinkle of this transition day is one final round of snow showers arriving late Tuesday evening. I'll even say a healthy coating of snow accumulation (up to a half-inch) is possible in spots. And those spots would be in central and southern New Jersey — the area of the state that has been in a snow drought since last winter. While I do not expect significant travel impacts, don't be surprised to see the ground whitened up Wednesday morning.
A seasonably chilly start to February.
Snow showers may linger through Wednesday mid-morning. Then clouds will gradually give way to sunshine. So the day will look nice. Winds will be light, and weather stays dry. But high temperatures will only reach the upper 30s. Maybe 40 degrees along the southern coast. That is actually slightly below normal for this time of year.
Thermometers will improve slightly on Thursday, rising into the lower 40s. Look for increasing clouds and an increasing breeze. Plus, there is a good chance for some rain showers Thursday afternoon and evening, especially for the southern half of New Jersey.
A blast of arctic wind will send thermometers plunging well below freezing. It's only our second temperature tumble of the winter season, after the pre-Christmas storm. But my hands hurt and my face is numb just thinking about it.
Friday morning temperatures will be in the 30s. But as a brisk northwest wind gusts up to 40 mph, we'll end up deep in the 20s by sunset. It will be a sunny, dry day. Just windy and cold.
Friday night, we will approach "dangerous cold" territory. Temperatures will bottom out in the single digits (north) to teens (most of the state). Add in the continuing breeze, and the wind chill ("feels like" or "apparent" temperature) may drop below zero.
In the core of the new cold air mass, Saturday is going to be downright frigid. High temperatures will only reach the mid 20s or so. Winds will be lighter than on Friday — but still, any little breeze will add a bite to the cold. It will be sunny and dry. But with high temperatures close to normal lows for early February, you'll need to do some serious bundling up.
The Extended Forecast
I don't want to get too deep into the weeds about the long-range forecast, because it really is a low confidence call at this point.
Sunday does look like the warmer day of the weekend, as temperatures potentially recover to 40 degrees or better. A round of late-day rain showers is possible.
Beyond that, I hesitate to offer much insight yet, as Monday could swing both warmer and colder, depending on which model forecast you like.
One thing missing? Big snow. Nothing interesting for the next 10 days, at least.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.