‘Little’ Snow/Rain Storm Thu-Fri – ‘Nasty’ Ice/Snow Storm This Weekend
My last several weather blog posts have contained highly detailed and somewhat technical discussions of our impending active, wintry weather. I took some heat on social media because some people are too busy and/or lazy to read (or even skim) my 1,500-word diatribes.
So this time around, I want to offer a concise outline of how I see our weather weather situation playing out. Along those lines, here is your New Jersey instant weather forecast over the next four days: Quiet, snow-rain, quiet, snow-rain-snow-ice, very cold.
Before I jump in to a bunch of bullet points, let me make a statement about forecast confidence. Storm #1, from Thursday evening through Friday midday, is pretty much locked-in. But Storm #2, from late Saturday through Sunday, remains highly questionable. North Jersey is going to end up so close to some very heavy snowfall. Meanwhile, the threat for significant icing is very real on Sunday, due to freezing rain and/or a flash freeze. But pinpointing accumulations is still tricky — that's why my snow total ranges are so wide, to cover the full spread of potential scenarios.
Storm #1: Thursday Evening to Friday Midday
Bottom Line: Not a major storm, but do not underestimate the risk of sloppy road conditions. Reduced visibility and light accumulations of snow/slush may make for a challenging Friday morning commute, especially away from the coast.
--First flakes will enter New Jersey around 8 p.m. Thursday evening.
--Initial precipitation will be snow for most of the state, with just rain along the immediate coast.
--Overnight, snow will transition to rain for at least the southern half of New Jersey (up to about Mercer-Middlesex counties).
--Precipitation (snow/rain) will lighten up and become more scattered by Friday morning's rush hour, but travel conditions may remain poor.
--Snow-to-rain transition will continue spreading northward Friday morning.
--Precipitation ends by lunchtime Friday.
--Breaks of sun and temperatures in the 40s expected Friday afternoon.
--In far northwestern New Jersey, precipitation may remain snow for the entire duration of this storm. 2 to 3 inches of total snow accumulation is expected here.
--Areas along and west of the NJ Turnpike are not expected to transition from snow to rain until after daybreak Friday. We're still looking at 1 to 2 inches of slushy accumulation in this corridor.
--Between the Garden State Parkway and the NJ Turnpike, this storm is expected to produce mostly rain. A coating to 1 inch of slush/snow may end up on the ground. Roads will hopefully remain wet, instead of snowy/icy.
--Along the immediate coast, this storm system will produce up to a quarter-inch of rain. Just rain.
Storm #2: Saturday Night to Sunday Afternoon
Bottom Line: Heavy snow is possible for northern NJ — the forecast is just too close for comfort. For central and southern New Jersey, it looks like snow late Saturday will change to heavy rain by Sunday morning and then transition back to snow Sunday afternoon as temperatures plummet. While the timeline and impacts are becoming clearer, the numbers (exact times and accumulations) are still very much up in the air.
--First flakes will arrive in western New Jersey around Saturday late afternoon, in the 3-4 p.m. timeframe.
--Initial precipitation will be mostly snow, with mixing possible in warmer areas of southern and coastal NJ.
--A burst of heavier snow is possible through the Saturday evening snows. Given the cold ground, this snowfall may accumulate quickly.
--As temperatures rise dramatically overnight — into the 50s — a transition from heavy snow to heavy rain will progress from south to north.
--By around 7 a.m. Sunday morning, (almost) all our precipitation will be rain. (Far North Jersey may continue to see some snow and/or wintry mix, depending on the exact storm track and temperatures.)
--However, the rain might not be just rain. While the precipitation will fall as liquid, it may freeze on contact with a cold surface like roads, sidewalks, driveways, steps, cars, mailboxes, trees, power lines, snow cover, etc. That's freezing rain. And that presents the threat for significant ice accretion, a very dangerous situation.
--As temperatures fall below freezing again around midday Sunday, rain will once again transition back to (light) snow.
--Snowfall is expected to wrap up completely around Sunday late afternoon or early evening.
--Be sure to read the next section about the arctic blast which could bring widespread significant icing late Sunday too.
--Far North Jersey is close enough to the meaty center of this storm system to justify the inclusion of higher potential snow totals. For the higher elevation areas of Sussex, Warren, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties, anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of snow accumulation is possible. (In addition to the threat for significant icing.)
--The stripe of northern New Jersey around the I-80, I-78, and I-287 corridors (give or take) might get clipped by heavier snow, before the inevitable changeover to rain. On the low end, I expect at least 2 inches of snow accumulation here. On the high end, I could see upwards of 8 inches of snowfall. (In addition to the threat for significant icing.)
--In the NJ Turnpike corridor from Middlesex to Salem counties, a quicker transition from snow to rain will mean less snow overall. I've opted for a snowfall range of 1 to 4 inches here. (In addition to the threat for significant icing.)
--Southern and coastal New Jersey, this ain't your snow storm. It's totally possible that above-freezing temperatures mean you only experience rain during this storm. A little bit of snow would be possible at the very beginning (Saturday evening) and end (Sunday afternoon) of the storm. So I'll give you a forecast of 0 to 2 inches of snow accumulation. (In addition to the threat for significant icing.)
--Up to 2 inches of rain is possible too.
Problem #3: Arctic Blast
Do you get the sense that I'm less concerned about the snow forecast than I am about the icing potential? I hope so.
Sunday's temperature nosedive is going to be pretty epic. While we'll see temps in the 50s Sunday morning, thermometers will fall into the Teens by Monday morning. As we rapidly drop past the freezing mark around Sunday early afternoon, it will 1.) cause any rain to transition back to snow, and 2.) threaten NJ with a flash freeze. That's when temperatures fall so fast and so much that any water, any moisture, any puddles freeze instantly. While snow offers some traction for walking and driving, a solid sheet of ice presents a very slippery and hazardous situation.
This is a concern for the entire state, even in the mostly rain. Please take the combination of freezing rain Sunday morning and the flash freeze Sunday afternoon seriously — travel may become nearly impossible if roads completely ice up.
In addition, ice-laden trees and power lines could cause power outages — bad news with the frigid temperatures on the way.
Monday morning high temperature could be in the single digits across the state, with a wind chill ("feels like" temperature) of -5 to -10. That qualifies as dangerous cold. High temps on Monday will struggle to make it to the 20-degree mark. It could be our coldest day since early January 2018.