Nor’easter update: Much of NJ will see major snow Wednesday
It is time to get serious about this snowstorm, although not everyone in the Garden State will get buried.
Upon reflection, I believe my Tuesday morning snow forecast was too specific, too complicated, and too aggressive. I had anticipated subsequent model runs would explode with double-digit snowfall in North Jersey. And it didn't happen — I jumped the gun on that potential. Therefore, I've scaled back snow totals for a few areas of New Jersey in my latest forecast. Not significantly, but noticeably.
But let's be frank here. Any snowfall over 6 inches will have significant impacts on travel, transit, infrastructure, and your daily routine on Wednesday. At that point, does it really make a difference if its 6 or 9 or 12 or 14 inches? I vote no.
I'm slipping the storm timing slightly earlier once again. Here's the breakdown:
--7 p.m. Tuesday... First snowflakes and raindrops arrive in western New Jersey.
--10 p.m. Tuesday... Light snow (north) and rain (central, south, coast) continue to spread across all of New Jersey.
--6 a.m. Wednesday... There could be a coating of snow on the ground in spots. Still just rain for the southern half of the state.
--10 a.m. Wednesday... Prime time, with heavier precipitation bands starting to arrive. Temperatures start to drop below freezing along the I-195 and I-295 corridors, forcing a transition from rain to mix/now.
--1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon... Just a mess. More and more of the state will transition from wintry to wet weather through the afternoon. Snowfall rates in northern NJ may exceed 2" an hour.
--4 p.m. Wednesday... Snow will taper off a bit heading into the evening commute, especially for south and central parts of the state. Travel will remain quite difficult.
--3 a.m. Thursday... Snow showers wrapping up.
Models seem to have resolved on a storm track just off the Jersey Shore. That puts the biggest snow totals in a swath from NE PA to North Jersey to the Catskills and Hudson Valley. That also will keep the Jersey Shore as just rain for the majority of the storm.
As I've discussed for several days, this is an exceptionally tricky forecast as the rain-mix-snow line will end up right over New Jersey. Within just a few miles, there could be a gradient between hardly any snow and a thorough dumping of over half-a-foot. Unfortunately, the science of meteorology just isn't good enough to pinpoint exactly where that line will end up.
Therefore, I encourage you to blur your eyes when looking at the snowfall forecast. I'd estimate the track of the storm could wiggle 20 miles in either direction at this point. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
I'm still liking a forecast calling for gusts of 30-40 mph for interior New Jersey and 40-50 mph along the coast. Yes, it is definitely going to be windy. But gusts should be nowhere near the ferocity of Friday's storm (60-70+ mph).
Unfortunately, the combination of a heavy, wet snow and weakened trees and infrastructure could lead to more (or extended) power outages.
Upwards of 2 feet of storm surge will cause widespread minor to locally moderate flooding of tidal waterways at the times of high tide. Peak water level is currently forecast during Wednesday's midday high tide cycle.
This situation is made a bit more precarious by the fact that some of the back bays and tributaries are still running high from last week's storm. Working in our favor is a lower astronomical tide, which will reduce the flooding threat.
Road closures are likely. Significant property damage is unlikely.
I believe the National Weather Service is spot on with their placement of Winter Storm Warnings and the Winter Weather Advisory. (That doesn't always happen!) These advisories are in effect from late Tuesday night through early Thursday morning.
--I expect widespread school closures on Wednesday, out of an abundance of caution. (Especially in the Warning area.)
--I expect further closings and delays on Thursday, as cleanup of major snow could take a while. (Maybe even Friday too.)
--As I mentioned, power outages will be a concern due to the combination of dense snow, strong winds, and already-weakened trees and power infrastructure.
--Travel will be very difficult if not impossible during the brunt of the storm, from late morning through early evening.
--I wouldn't be surprised if area airports make blanket cancellations all day Wednesday, and maybe into early Thursday.
--Much french toast will be consumed, given the surge in demand for bread, milk, and eggs.
Hopefully you get the sense that this storm means business, especially the further north and west you live in New Jersey.
But it's really just a big snowstorm. Something like 96% of winter storm fatalities happen as a result of traffic accidents. If you stay smart and cognizantly play it safe, you'll get through this one fine. We've done this before, New Jersey. And we'll do it again, winter after winter.
Maybe we'll even do it again next week, with another potential nor'easter popping up in the models... But I'll save that forecast for a future weather blog...