Why No One Really Knows if NJ’s Getting Hammered by Snow This Weekend
Consistency among forecast models remains poor and all types of nasty weather remain on the table for Friday and Saturday in the Garden State.
Before you read this post, please make sure you have reviewed this morning's comprehensive weather blog post: Weekend winter storm update: Nasty weather likely for NJ.
Morning Forecast Model (00Z) Recap
--European: The coldest solution... showing double-digit snowfall across most (if not all) of New Jersey
--GFS: My preferred solution, albeit the trickier forecast... showing some rain/mixing for the Jersey Shore, with big snow totals further north and west
--Canadian: A bit helter-skelter... showing overall lower snow totals for the state, but trending toward the GFS's idea of at least some rain and lower snow totals along the coast
Afternoon Models Are In
Unfortunately, there is little resolution to our forecast issues for the upcoming winter storm. That's not surprising, since we didn't figure to have substantial resolution until tomorrow. However, a whole new volcano of problems has erupted with the latest data.
Afternoon Forecast Model (12Z) Recap
• European: Storm digs further south than previous forecasts... Still big double-digit snow totals for the southern half of New Jersey, but trending toward North Jersey and NYC getting hardly anything at all
• GFS: Has gone colder all-around... Widespread double-digits across the entire state, with only limited mixing and/or rain along the immediate coast
• Canadian: Further north, and bigger impact... Double-digits in North Jersey, and hardly anything along the south coast
• NAM: Storm's impacts on NJ are almost visible within the model's limited time domain... Seems a bit slower and a bit further south than GFS, but intensity forecast is close
We've Got Questions ... And No Real Answers
Here are some semi-random thoughts as we sit about 72 hours before the first snowflakes and raindrops here in New Jersey...
• Ensembles. This afternoon's ensemble models have not finished running, as of this writing. That output may lend some additional clues... Or may further deepen the mystery of this troublemaker of a storm system.
• Uncertainty. Tomorrow's 00Z and 12Z need to trend toward consistency. The GFS and Euro need to learn to play nice with each other, in perfect harmony, before we pull the trigger on a heavy snow forecast.
• Damaging Winds. No matter what happens precipitation-wise, the wind gusts generated by this storm are going to be a big problem. 60+ mph gusts will cause downed trees and power outages. Dangerous wind chills will be possible as well.
• Coastal Flooding. Nor'easters are also notorious for producing surge, causing coastal flooding and beach erosion up and down the Jersey Shore. This is exacerbated by our currently high astronomical tide. It won't take much storm surge to inundate "the usual spots" along the coast, and the National Weather Service has suggested the flooding could reach the "moderate" to "major" categories.
• Gut Reaction. Honestly, I feel like the Euro is digging too far south in this latest 12Z run. It's so different from all the other model solutions we have seen this week. I think the 00Z GFS run is the most reasonable solution of the day... but again, there has to be agreement across the board.
• Bottom Line. No matter what happens, we are confident that this storm is going to have a significant impact on New Jersey given the wind and surf concerns alone. Meanwhile, all options regarding precipitation have to remain on the table until further data lets us narrow it down further. This includes heavy snow, heavy rain, and possibly even little to no precipitation for part of the Garden State.
So, yes. Our forecast remains highly uncertain and unchanged... There's literally a chance for 0 to 24 inches of snow accumulation, several inches of rain, 60+ mph wind gusts, and/or moderate to major coastal flooding. That's still all we know for sure, for now.
Next update planned by 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.