Light snow for part of NJ Wednesday — no advisories, no big deal
Hi there. This is supposed to be my day off. While time off is a rarity during New Jersey's busy winter season, I try to take sporadic personal days to keep my sanity. Unfortunately, due to a lack of sanity and/or competence within New Jersey's state government, we have another minor winter weather event that has been completely blown out of proportion. The entire state is brined and salted and ready for... a coating of snow?
Therefore, here I am to address some of the hype and hysteria, and lay out an increasingly active forecast over the next week.
Storm System #1: Wednesday-Thursday
As the headline of this article suggests: Yes, it's going to snow for part of New Jersey Wednesday into Wednesday night. No it's not going to be a big deal.
We're starting your Wednesday with some cold temperatures. Most thermometers have bottomed out in the lower to mid 20s. A bit below normal for late February. There are some patches of clear sky over New Jersey for now, but clouds will quickly thicken up through the course of Wednesday morning.
A clipper system is aiming for New Jersey Wednesday. Typical of clippers, it is fast-moving and devoid of the intense moisture we would find from a coastal storm. Model guidance has settled on a solution that will impact New Jersey in two parts.
Part 1 comes around midday Wednesday, let's say between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A quick spurt of light snow in northern New Jersey only (mainly north of Interstate 80). Maybe a dusting on the ground — that's it.
Part 2 will be slightly more impactful, arriving Wednesday evening and potentially lasting through Thursday morning. (Just to be safe, let's put the snow window as 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.) The entire northern half of the state — above Interstate 195 — could see snowflakes from this one.
I estimate up to an inch or two of accumulation is possible for northwestern New Jersey, primarily north of Interstate 78. (Even that might be pushing it.) Closer to the NYC metro area, and into Central Jersey? A healthy coating, at most. South of I-195? Nothing.
Sure, there could be a few school delays or minor travel issues for Thursday morning's commute. But again, the clouds are just going to spit some light snow at part of the state. Far from a blockbuster winter storm.
Storm System #2: Early Friday
I am slightly more concerned about another storm system expected to pass through New Jersey Friday morning. This one looks to dig farther south than the previous clipper, tapping into some richer moisture along the way.
The timing of this one is especially inconvenient, with a period of moderate snow looking likely during the Friday morning rush hour period.
As it stands, the bullseye of this storm's snow potential lands over southern New Jersey this time around. Models offer differing opinions regarding the magnitude of snow totals, so I don't want to nail down potential totals too hard at this time. But I think it's totally possible that we see something like 2 to 3 inches on the ground around interior South Jersey. That's bordering on advisory-level, nuisance-level snow, especially as it coincides with a commute and the start of the school day.
Storm System #3: Saturday
Are you familiar with chaos theory? Also known as the Butterfly Effect? (Great movie, by the way.) A butterfly flaps its winds in China, and the wind blows in New Jersey. Little changes in initial conditions can have major implications on effects down the road.
It's an important concept in weather. And a big problem when it comes to forecasting, especially during the winter. The end result of each storm has a non-zero effect on the next one. That's why I generally try to maintain a focus on one storm at a time. But this winter, that's been very difficult. If not impossible.
Our next next next weather maker is set to arrive Saturday into early Sunday. So far this week, with high temperatures well in the 40s on Saturday, this one has been reading as an "all rain" event. And I'm still leaning toward a wet solution.
But I'm not convinced there won't be a wintry component. Especially in the (colder) higher elevations of NW NJ. Especially given the chance for precipitation stretching into the (colder) overnight hours.
In any case, I don't think this forecast is any reason to be alarmed or to cancel weekend plans. We'll nail down details in the next day or so — once the butterfly stops flapping his wings.
Storm System #4: Sunday Night to Monday (and beyond)
The next system down the line is shaping up as a more classic, potentially more significant winter storm for New Jersey. One where the forecast comes down to the specific track, size, strength, and timing of the storm. But again, we're still over 100 hours away, which means there are several outcomes still very much on the table here. (For example, the GFS shows widespread snow, while the Euro shows almost all rain.)
So I'm going to hold back on offering any details on this one. Other than saying it's currently scheduled to affect New Jersey from Sunday evening through Monday morning. And mentioning that there is a chance for "a few inches" of snow. Other than that, let's see how things develop and change over the next day or two.
While I'm not ready to offer details on this particular blast of winter, it does illustrate a shift in our weather pattern that I've been talking about for weeks. March is often a violent weather month for New Jersey, as the last licks of winter cold clashes with the impending warmth and humidity of spring. There have been strong signals that our overall atmospheric setup will change in two ways, just in time for the calendar page to change: 1.) Another cold snap, and 2.) A shift in the storm track to a more "nor'easterly" shape.
Yup, early March looks to roar like a lion once again for the Garden State. The first 2 to 3 weeks could get quite busy, before a decidedly springlike weather pattern takes hold.
In anticipation of the upcoming barrage of cold and snow and brine and headaches, I'm going back to my day off now. I'll be back on the radio, and on the weather blog, early Thursday morning.