Rain, Rain, Rain, For New Jersey
A pair of storm systems will team up to bring an extended period of rain to the Garden State, with limited wintry weather possible for the northern part of NJ.
A weak coastal system will push through New Jersey on Tuesday, spreading rain from south to north through the morning hours. Overall, it will be a wet day, with persistent light to moderate rain. In far North Jersey, temperatures may be hovering near the freezing mark at the onset of precipitation, so some snow will be possible. An inch or two of snow accumulation will even be possible, especially on cold surfaces and again limited to the northern part of the state.
We should experience a relative lull in precipitation Tuesday night. Once again, some light snow and freezing rain could continue north of I-80.
A stronger storm system will affect the Garden State on Wednesday. This low pressure will be centered west of New Jersey, putting us on the warm side of the storm. In fact, southerly winds will fuel a warmup to the lower 50s in North Jersey and near 60 degrees in South Jersey. So anything that falls from the sky by mid-morning Wednesday will be exclusively rain. In such a warm atmosphere, pockets of heavy rain and some embedded thunderstorms will be possible too.
By early Thursday morning, the rain will be largely tapering off. Lingering rain showers, clouds, and a brisk wind could continue through Thursday afternoon.
--Tuesday Morning: Rain arrives, pushing from South Jersey to North Jersey. Intensity should remain light to moderate.
--Tuesday Afternoon: As the leading edge of precipitation reaches the colder temperatures of far North Jersey, a period of light accumulating snow will be possible. South of Interstate 80, light to moderate rain will continue (maybe with a few snowflakes mixed in, depending on exact temperatures).
--Tuesday Evening/Night: Precipitation tapers or stops completely for most of New Jersey for part of the overnight. Light snow or freezing drizzle in North Jersey may cause minor icing conditions.
--Wednesday Morning: A band of moderate rain (nothing wintry) is expected to push through the state. The second half of the morning commute could become very wet.
--Wednesday Evening/Night: A final wave of moderate to heavy rain, with possible embedded thunderstorms, will move through New Jersey. Travel conditions could become quite poor for the Wednesday evening commute.
--Early Thursday Morning: Rain largely wraps up by daybreak, although lingering showers will be possible through Thursday afternoon.
As temperatures hover right around the freezing mark both at the surface and aloft, there will be a chance for some wintry weather from Tuesday's system. However, the chance for snow and ice will be strictly limited to the higher elevations of North Jersey. If you live south of Interstate 80, this storm is going to be a rain-maker for you.
Models have shown "a couple to a few" inches of snow could fall across a swath of Morris to Sussex counties through Tuesday and Tuesday night. It's a tricky forecast, because precipitation type is so sensitive to temperatures both at the surface and throughout the atmosphere. I do think an inch or two of slushy snow is possible on cold surfaces in North Jersey (around Sussex County). But 3" or 4" seems like a stretch, as surface air temperatures will be so close to (or even above) freezing.
A period of freezing rain will be possible in the same area of North Jersey for Tuesday night through early Wednesday morning. That could be more perilous than a couple of inches of snow, as just a light glaze of ice could make for some very difficult driving and walking conditions.
By Wednesday, warmer temperatures will put an end to any wintry weather chances by about mid-morning.
The National Weather Service has issued a precautionary Winter Weather Advisory for the higher elevations of North Jersey, given the chance for some snow accumulation and ice accretion. A Winter Weather Advisory cautions that travel may become difficult due to wintry conditions.
--Sussex County: 1 p.m. Tuesday to 9 a.m. Wednesday (1 to 2 inches of snow, sleet, freezing rain)
--Warren/Morris County: 1 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday (Coating to 1 inch of snow, sleet, freezing rain)
--W. Passaic County: 1 p.m. Tuesday to 9 a.m. Wednesday (Up to 1 inch of snow, up to a tenth of an inch of ice)
--W. Bergen County: 1 p.m. Tuesday to 9 a.m. Wednesday (Up to 1 inch of snow, up to a few hundredths of an inch of ice)
As of this writing, no warnings, watches, or advisories have been issued for coastal flooding, inland flooding, or convective severe weather (thunderstorms). All will be possible at some point during the evolution of this stormy setup.
I am a bit concerned about the two biggest weather impacts: 1.) the chance for snow accumulation and ice accretion in North Jersey through Tuesday night, and 2.) the heaviest rain (and thunderstorms) coinciding with Wednesday evening's commute.
For the most part, an umbrella, windshield wipers, and extra caution will get you through this weather event without too much problem.
Beyond the Rain
High temperatures on Thursday will probably make it into the mild 50s across most of New Jersey. But cooler air will make our weather feel a bit brisk heading into the final weekend of February.
High temperatures for Friday and Saturday will barely make it to the lower 40s, which is actually a bit below normal for this time of year. Meanwhile, wind gusts over 25 mph will make it feel a bit blustery. At least skies will be nice and sunny.
A switch to southwest winds will incite a warmup for Sunday and Monday. Temperatures should bounce back into the 50s by leap day.
Our next front is currently forecast for Monday as well. At the moment it looks fairly weak, with just rain showers expected. That timing and strength is, of course, subject to change.