7 Things to Know About New Jersey’s Next Winter Storm
On the heels of Monday's snow showers along the coast, the impacts of the next winter storm system to hit New Jersey will be quite a bit more substantial.
A Fond Farewell
The outer edge of a truly impressive storm system just barely touched the Jersey Shore Monday morning, producing some conversational snow and rain showers. Accumulations were minimal. Of course, had that storm system wiggled about 150 miles to the west, it would have been a very different story.
That storm system was drifting away from New Jersey mid-day Monday, and so the snow and rain had ended for the moment. Winds will remain fairly brisk, skies will stay mostly cloudy, and temperatures will cool through the 30s and into the 20s for Monday night.
In addition, the threat for moderate coastal flooding will persist through the Monday evening and Tuesday morning high tide cycles. On top of an already high new moon tide, an on-shore flow is expected to push about 2 feet of surge toward the coast. Moderate flooding generally means that low-lying roadways next to tidal waterways may close to flooding around the time of high tide. In other words, the places that "usually" flood when there's a coastal storm will likely have a problem here. (I'm looking at you Route 35, Black Horse Pike, etc.)
Not that you're going swimming any time soon, but the ocean will stay angry for the next couple of days too. 8 to 12 foot waves will cause minor to moderate beach erosion.
The forecast for our next winter storm has been tricky, as a clipper system was expected to interact with another coastal system to potentially produce some heavy snowfall across New Jersey. As I mentioned in Monday morning's blog post, that coastal low is now expected to be too far off-shore to make a difference. So, I think we're starting to get a handle on how it plays out. Here's a general guideline of what to expect here in the Garden State:
--Monday Evening/Night: Scattered snow showers are likely through the overnight hours. About an inch of accumulation is possible by daybreak Tuesday.
--Tuesday Morning: Snow and rain showers continue, on and off. Another half-inch to an inch of accumulation is possible during this time frame.
--Tuesday Afternoon/Evening: The main body of the clipper system and the best lift mechanics will arrive from the west. Localized bands of heavier snow are expected during this time of peak accumulation. Anywhere from 2 to 6 additional inches will accumulate on the ground through Tuesday night for all but far North Jersey.
--Tuesday Night: The window for peak snowfall continues through about Midnight. Snow should then taper off significantly by daybreak Wednesday.
--Wednesday Morning: Lingering snow and/or rain showers are possible, but eventually skies will start to clear by midday Wednesday at the latest.
Following this timeline, schools will probably get to squeak in a full day on Tuesday. (Although afternoon and evening activities may be pushing it.) Of course, every school district has different guidelines for calling a delayed opening, early closing, or cancellation, so don't quote me here. Especially since a 3-hour speed-up in this timeline would make for a very messy bus ride home on Tuesday.
Tuesday evening's commute will probably be quite sloppy for most of the state. And with areas of 6" of snow on the ground by Wednesday morning, getting to work or school that day may also be challenging.
See the map above for our latest snowfall totals forecast. In summary, the biggest snowfall totals should occur in the southwestern corner of the state (I've also called this area "far inland South Jersey"). A widespread 4 to 6 inches of accumulation are expected here. I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of 7 or 8 inch reports in there, if the snow really gets cranking during the peak of the storm.
In Cape May County and along the coast, there's a chance for some rain mixing in with the snow, which would limit totals. Meanwhile, North Jersey is outside of the bullseye for the strongest lift, and therefore should get left out of the heaviest mesoscale snow bands late Tuesday. To be safe, I'm forecasting a wide area of 2 to 4 inches for most of New Jersey. Above Interstate 80, our forecast calls for 1 to 2 inches of snow.
Major storm? No. Although we could see a Winter Storm Warning issued for SW NJ before all is said and done. (We're right on the precipice of meeting warning criteria with this forecast.)
Bread and milk storm? Nah.
Potentially messy? Yes. 6+ inches of snow is nothing to joke about.
I feel comfortable with the timeline and totals I have presented in this post. There are three things preventing me from having 100% confidence in this forecast:
--If the location of the heaviest snow bands shift just a few miles north or south, the area of potential 6-inch totals would shift as well. This kind of thing is difficult to pinpoint with great precision, so we always have to paint this kind of snow forecast with a broad brush of uncertainty.
--If the storm arrives faster than expected, the heaviest snow could happen as early as Tuesday morning.
--The almighty European model shows meager snow totals for the Garden State, in the 1 to 2 inch range. There are a lot of elements of this model output that do not make sense to me, so I'm leaning heavily on the other models instead. However, it is worth noting that this storm's dynamics are nowhere near perfect for big snow totals.
The National Weather Service continues a Coastal Flood Warning from Sandy Hook to Atlantic City, and a Coastal Flood Advisory from Atlantic City to Cape May through early Tuesday morning. As I mentioned earlier, moderate flooding of tidal waterways may occur at the times of high tide (Monday evening and Tuesday morning).
In addition, a Winter Storm Watch has been issued for the area south of Interstate 195. A "watch" is simply a heads-up that 6+ inch snow totals are possible within 24 to 48 hours. If the forecast continues to raise concern of disruptive winter weather, the watch would be upgraded to a warning. (That would probably happen early Tuesday morning.)
The Next Big Thing
The first half of the week is all about active, wintry weather. The second half of the week is all about frigid temperatures. In fact, the coldest air of the season looks to descend upon New Jersey for Thursday, Friday, and the upcoming Valentine's Day Weekend.
Highs this weekend may not reach 20 degrees for most of New Jersey. Lows are forecast to fall into the single digits. Wind chills may dip well below zero. Ouch!
The European also showed another clipper system (and therefore, another chance of snow) moving through New Jersey on Friday night through Saturday morning. The GFS does not confirm this forecast at this time. We'll see which model wins out as the week rolls on.