Winter Weather Advisory: Up to 5″ of snow through Saturday morning
Good evening. Here is a quick update to our "March lion's roar" wintry weekend weather forecast.
A pair of storm systems. A pair of snow chances. But it's not going to snow everywhere. And it's not going to snow (or rain) all weekend.
Friday Evening to Saturday Morning
This is going to be a slightly longer-duration and more-impactful storm than the snowfall of Friday morning.
Initial raindrops (yes, just rain) will enter SW NJ Friday around 8 p.m. As the precipitation spreads northward through 1 a.m. Saturday, it will change to wintry mix and/or snow in the colder air of central and northern New Jersey. Peak snowfall and rainfall will occur from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday, before everything tapers off by about 9 a.m. (aside from some lingering showers).
The main idea behind my snowfall forecast map for this storm is similar to what I threw out there Friday morning.
New Jersey's biggest snow totals will be found in northwestern New Jersey (the purple area), very roughly north and west of the Route 1 corridor. Based on the latest math, I settled on 2 to 4 inches of snow accumulation in that area. But I would not be surprised to see a few totals approach 5 inches. (Just to take a stab in the dark, let's say such a bullseye is most likely to occur around Hunterdon County and Bergen County.)
The blue area is our transition zone. While you'll likely see some rain at onset, cooling temperatureswill force a change to a wintry mix of snow, freezing rain, and sleet. I've had to leave a wide variety of weather and road conditions in the forecast for this region, ranging from wet to icy to snowy. Accumulations will be relatively light (on the order of a coating to 2 inches, but travel may be treacherous.
For southern New Jersey (the green area), this one is going to bring rain. Yup, it looks wet and not wintry, as temperatures hover in the mid to upper 30s. Could you see a few snowflakes along the way? Sure. But no accumulation or icy roads are expected.
A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for the following 10 New Jersey counties, for the following times:
—9 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday... Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren.
—7 p.m. Friday to Noon Saturday... Essex, Hudson, and Union.
—10 p.m. Friday to Noon Saturday... Bergen and Passaic.
Aside from a few widely scattered snow showers, you'll find quiet weather conditions from Saturday midday through Sunday midday. Skies will remain mostly cloudy, with daytime high temperatures in the lower 40s.
So if you need to travel, run to the store, etc. there will be ample opportunity through the middle part of the weekend.
And, with those above-freezing temperatures, much of the accumulated snow should melt quickly between the two weekend storms.
Sunday Afternoon to Monday Morning
The forecast for this one is still shaky, both in terms of timing and accumulations. I've decided to hold off on drawing a formal snowfall forecast map until we have better model resolution. I expect that to happen around midday Saturday, once we're clear of the first weekend winter storm.
There seem to be two scenarios on the table at this point.
Scenario #1... Snow map would look very similar to the Friday night storm, with totals about doubled. Heavy snow (up to 8+ inches) would fall over NW NJ, while just rain encompasses South Jersey.
Scenario #2... A few models (namely the GFS operational) favor an almost everybody gets snow solution, putting 3 to 6+ inches of accumulation over most of New Jersey (except for the immediate coast).
While I have seen a few model runs suggesting double-digit snow potential (i.e. 10+ inches), the latest guidance backs off the idea of such heavy snow. We'll keep the possibility in mind (hence the "plus" in the scenarios I listed above). But I absolutely don't want to hype up the potential of this thing too much, unless it's warranted.
Another problem, the exact start time. I have seen "first flakes and drops" estimations as early as 10 a.m. and as late as 4 p.m. I'm still favoring a quiet start to Sunday, with precipitation beginning in the "afternoon". This is another aspect of the forecast we'll have to monitor as things firm up.
Hopefully, this storm system will depart by Monday morning's commute. (Although not a guarantee.) Regardless, with those kinds of accumulations, school closings and travel headaches are likely for at least part of the state to start the new workweek.
As I mentioned on-air Friday morning, this "weekend grand finale" storm might be the best example of a "classic" winter storm we've had all winter! Timeline and totals are highly dependent on the precise track and temperatures, making the forecast very difficult to pinpoint until the storm is practically on top of us. I highly recommend you keep an eye on the latest forecast and advisory information throughout the weekend.
We'll continue to keep you updated on this ever-evolving wintry weekend weather situation. Next weather blog update is scheduled for Saturday morning.