Winter Storm Watch: Another Messy Snow-Ice-Rain Maker for NJ
Tuesday: chilly and quiet. Tuesday night: dry and cold. Wednesday morning: fine. Wednesday afternoon: not so much.
Temperatures on this Tuesday morning are pretty cold, with widespread 20s across the state (teens in and around Sussex County). I've seen a few wind chill values in the teens too — it's cold enough that any little breeze will add a bite to the air.
The rest of your back-to-school, back-to-work Tuesday will be chilly and quiet. We'll see solid sunshine, with passing clouds. Winds will be significantly lighter than the 30-40+ mph gusts of Monday night. (Top gust was 46 mph at Pennsauken, Camden County.)
Tuesday night will also be uneventful, dry, and cold. Thermometers will dip into the upper teens to lower 20s overnight. Light winds mean no wind chill.
And then with plenty of cold air to work with, Wednesday turns wintry. To start, at least. It will turn warmer and wetter as the day goes along.
—Wednesday Mid-Morning... Initial band of moderate to heavy snow crosses the Delaware River into southwestern New Jersey.
—Wednesday Late Morning... Snow spreads northward through the rest of the state.
—Wednesday Early Afternoon... Snow still falling (and accumulating).
—Wednesday Late Afternoon... Transition to wintry mix (snow, sleet, and freezing rain) begins, from south to north.
—Wednesday Early Evening... Mixing continues, eventually changing to all rain as temperatures warm.
—Wednesday Late Evening... Almost all rain, with the exception of colder higher elevations in far North Jersey.
—Thursday Mid-Morning... Periods of rain come to an end.
Yet again, this storm is not going to be a big snow maker, due to the progressive mixing and the overall moderate strength of the storm. It's not a coastal storm, it's not a nor'easter, it's not a blizzard, and it's not really a "major" storm.
My latest forecast calls for 2 to 4 inches of snow generally across the western half of New Jersey, with 1 to 2 inches closer to the coast. In addition, a dangerous glaze of ice (from sleet and freezing rain) is possible.
This is a moderate confidence, middle-of-the-road forecast. (GFS shows about 2 inches of snow at the most, the Euro shows 3 inches in SW NJ, and the NAM is still pumping out 6 inches of accumulation.) It is a slight increase from my previous thinking, as the storm (and the speed of the transition from snow to mix) has slowed down over the last few model runs.
Is there a chance I'll have to increase the snow forecast further? Sure, I was half-tempted to show a "just-in-case" 5 inches of snow along the Delaware River.
Is there a chance this snow forecast is a total bust? Kind of. I think it's going to be plenty cold enough at the onset for a period of accumulating snow almost everywhere. (There is admittedly a chance far southern and far northern NJ fall out of the snow contours.) But if the air is too dry at the beginning and/or snow is lighter than expected and/or the wintry mix changeover happens earlier/faster than anticipated, we will once again see little to no snow accumulation..
Ultimately, I am comfortable with the forecast I have presented here. (Or else I wouldn't publish it.) However, as of this writing, we're still over 24 hours away from first flakes. Let's see how things develop. We'll take another stab at a snow/ice map late Tuesday and/or early Wednesday.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for all or part of 12 NJ counties:
—6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday for northwestern Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties in southwestern New Jersey.
—6 a.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday for Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties in Central Jersey.
—10 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday for Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties in North Jersey.
A Winter Storm Watch is just a formal heads-up to potentially hazardous snowy and icy conditions within 48 hours. The watch may be upgraded to a warning (or downgraded to an advisory) — that issuance will probably happen Tuesday afternoon.
Even though the snow accumulations don't quite meet "warning criteria" (5-7+ inches in NJ), the addition of possible icing in the forecast would warrant a warning.
I hate to say it, but this storm reminds me of the one from mid-November. (#Brinegate) Not because of the structure, setup, or geography. And hopefully not because of a potential over-performance surprise. It strikes a chord with me because of the timing.
You're going to wake up Wednesday morning, look out the window, and see absolutely no snow. Some will even call me an idiot at that point. (Which may or may not be true, of course.)
But snow, sleet, and freezing rain will arrive later on, during the workday. Road conditions will get progressively sloppier as the afternoon goes on. And the evening commute is the big bullet point of this winter storm forecast. I know I've used the word/description many times this winter so far, and it absolutely applies once again — no matter what's falling from the sky, Wednesday evening's rush hour looks messy.
Beyond the Storm
Periods of rain, potentially heavy at times, will continue Wednesday night, wrapping up around mid-morning Thursday. We'll see partial clearing with a stiff breeze Thursday afternoon. And you'll get to briefly enjoy the warmup, as high temperatures make a run for 60 degrees!
Cooling down with quiet weather on Friday. And then we get wet again this weekend.
Our next storm system arrives midday Saturday, sliding from south to north. While there could be an ever-so-brief period of wintry mix at the onset, this one is going to be a soaker. All-day Sunday looks quite wet as well.
As always, thanks for following and reading my forecast updates. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to blog again Tuesday afternoon/evening, or wait until Wednesday morning. Follow me on social media or download our mobile app to know when we have information to share!