Weekend Winter Storm Watch: Big snow north, ice possible for all of NJ
Storm #1 Winds Down
As expected, our first "little" winter storm system brought light snow to the Garden State overnight. We're waking up to roads that are either snowy, slushy, or soggy — in any case, they're probably slippery. (I lost traction twice on my ride to work this morning.)
The only aspect of the forecast that didn't really pan out was the coast. Temperatures ended up a few degrees cooler than expected, so we've seen less rain and more snow and wintry mix along the entire Jersey Shore. Accumulations remain light, and travel impacts fairly limited.
Bands of moderate snow will exit the Garden State by 7-8 a.m., with lingering showers possible through late morning. As the sun comes up and temperatures rise a bit, we will continue a transition from snow showers to rain showers. Again, all light stuff.
By Friday afternoon, breaks of sunshine should push high temperatures into the lower 40s — yes, it could turn into a decently pleasant January day. Lots of snow melt too.
Clouds will fill back in Friday night, with chilly quiet weather continuing for the first half of Saturday.
Storm #2 Winds Up
A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, for 10 counties in northern New Jersey: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren. A Watch means that wintry weather may significantly impede travel within 24 to 48 hours. It is not a guarantee of bad weather, just a heads up. If the forecast holds steady, this Watch would likely be upgraded to a Warning.
I would describe my confidence regarding this storm forecast as... Eh. I think it has become very clear that the swath of heaviest snow will remain north of New Jersey. I also think it's clear that most of the state is in for a wintry mess, with impacts ranging from snow to sleet to freezing rain to heavy rain to a flash freeze.
--First Flakes: Initial bands of precipitation are expected to arrive in western New Jersey on Saturday afternoon. A quick burst of snow accumulation will be possible right off the bat.
--Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: As temperatures rise, snow quickly turns to rain for southern and coastal New Jersey from Saturday evening through Saturday night.
--Heavy at Times: Up to 2 inches of total rainfall will be possible overnight for southern and eventually central New Jersey.
--Warm Air Surges: By Sunday morning, we'll likely see mostly rain falling across New Jersey. Wintry mix (sleet, freezing rain) could linger in the area north of Interstate 78.
--The Snow Bullseye: The area around Sussex County may remain cold enough to sustain all snow/sleet for the duration. I maintain that upwards of a foot of snow is still a possibility across the top of the state.
--Cooler Air Returns: Temperatures start to drop Sunday morning, forcing a transition from rain back to snow (from north to south).
--The End: Precipitation will taper off sometime Sunday. I'm a little unsure on the exact timing — we might be done by late morning, but there could be lingering showers around through late afternoon or even early evening.
--Flash Freeze: As thermometers fall sharply Sunday afternoon thanks to a gusty 40 mph wind, any puddles and wet surfaces may completely freeze over. Believe it or not, ice is very slippery. Therefore, very poor road conditions may very well continue into Sunday night. This is a statewide concern.
--Please refer to my snow map above for a much more precise visualization of my latest forecast. These contours are subject to change as new forecast information becomes available.
--Along and north of Interstate 80: You might get buried in heavy snow. 6 to 12 inches of snow (leaning toward the higher side in and around Sussex County). Up to a quarter-inch of ice.
--Along and north of Interstate 78: I think it's fair to call this storm a "mostly snow" event for you. An initial burst of heavy snow will eventually transition to rain/wintry mix, before returning to snow at the very end. 3 to 6 inches of snow. Up to a quarter-inch of ice.
--North of Interstate 195 and the Interstate 295 corridor: This storm will be a "mostly rain" event for you. But you could still see a quick spurt of heavy snow at onset, putting a quick layer of snow cover on the ground. 1 to 3 inches (leaning toward the lower side for Monmouth on south). Light icing also possible during initial rainfall.
--South and Coast: Almost all rain, which will be heavy at times. Little to no snow accumulation — I expect no more than an inch. Little to no ice accumulation. About 2 inches of rain.
I am collaborating with our digital, news, programming, and engineering teams on a plan to cover this potent snow/ice/rain storm's impact on the Garden State this weekend. It doesn't matter if you see "just rain" or "a ton of snow," we'll have the information you need to stay informed and safe. My next weather blog post is scheduled for Friday afternoon or evening.
I hope you truly comprehend and appreciate just how cold it's going to get. This powerful storm is going to drag down some frigid arctic air. (It's the return of... The Polar Vortex... Cue the dramatic music...)
Monday morning low temperatures will probably reach the single digits and lower teens for most of New Jersey. You'll also feel a bitter breeze, perhaps gusting to 20 or 30 mph. That puts the wind chill anywhere from -5 to -15. That is dangerous cold, ladies and gentlemen. Frostbite can affect exposed skin within 30 minutes.
Despite sunshine, high temperatures on Monday will only reach around the 20 degree cold. I'm still expecting it to be our coldest day in over a year.
Tuesday's forecast looks somewhat better, but still unseasonably cold with highs around the freezing mark.
Did you really think our active weather pattern was over yet, did you? Ha!
The next storm system in line is showing up around the middle of next week. Poor model agreement though in terms of timing and impacts. Could be a quick hit of rain, followed by a bit of accumulating snow. It's just a shot in the dark for right now. We'll start to piece together those details early next week — not before.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.