WEATHER

A snowy start to March

BY John Cifelli, Meteorologist |
  • Three chances for snow in the first four days of March
  • Southern New Jersey most impacted Thursday night into Friday
  • Northern New Jersey most impact Friday night, Sunday night into Monday
  • Sunday night/Monday event to be the most significant

Meteorological spring begins March 1. It seems that Mother Nature just realized that the state hasn’t received it’s usual share of winter weather, and it’s time to pack in some late-season snow chances.

A deep upper-level low will rotate through southern Canada, the Great Lakes, and New England over the next seven days, pressing abnormally cold air onto the doorstep of the mid-Atlantic. Several waves of low pressure will zip across the upper Mississippi Valley underneath the upper level low to the north, and spread precipitation across New Jersey when they arrive or generate along the east coast.

The first one arrives Thursday night into Friday, and its focused on southern New Jersey. A decaying upper-level feature will bring a burst of snow, lasting three hours or so to central and southern New Jersey. Most of it falls in the pre-dawn hours. Look for a coating to two inches of accumulation south of Route 1 to slicken things up, particularly if you’re out the door before sunrise. Snow will linger latest for coastal counties, particularly Cape May. The best accumulation will be in southwest New Jersey, with less north and east.

The next round comes Friday night, after the evening commute. Another upper-level feature will race east and team up with energy embedded in the sub-tropical jet stream. As a surface low develops over North Carolina in response, precipitation will spread back across the state Friday evening. This time, look for rain showers in southern and central New Jersey, and accumulating snow to the north. As always, the rain/snow line will depend on the low’s track and intensity. I think a coating to two inches is again on the table, but on the other side of Route 1, to the north and west. Look for higher amounts just on the edge of the transition zone and less in northern New Jersey.

Saturday’s snow and rain will be out of the picture by mid-morning, and most of the weekend will be fair. We should see some peeks of sun Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Much of snow falls will be melted away by Sunday, when clouds thicken as our next system approaches. This one has more energy and moisture to work with, and will be bigger event to contend with. A vigorous piece of upper-level energy will ignite a surface low over the Carolinas, which looks to then track northeast along the coastal plain or into the western Atlantic. Several inches of snow are possible for central and northern New Jersey, with the best chance being north and west. Elsewhere, an inch of rain will fall Sunday night into Monday morning.

The track of our Sunday storm will depend on how things play out with our Thursday night and Friday night storms. Once these waves of energy reach the coast and move into the Atlantic, they will have an impact on where the tracks are laid for the storm train to follow. Also, as the Canadian upper-level low approaches Sunday, how far it presses into New England will impact the Sunday night storm’s path as well. Therefore exact path and the resulting rain/snow line will be in limbo until the preceding systems run their course. I am confident at this point that northwest New Jersey will have its biggest snowfall of the year. That may end up being the case as far south and east as the 95 corridor as well. It will take a lot to get significant snows down to the coast, however.

What a way to welcome spring!