WEATHER

Arctic Blast: Cold front to bring snow and frigid temps Tuesday

BY John Cifelli, Meteorologist |
  • Cold front Tuesday brings rain and accumulating snow to New Jersey
  • Arctic cold to follow, widespread single digit lows Wednesday and Thursday nights

The coldest air of the year will spill across the northern mid-Atlantic this week. The leading cold front will slowly press across New Jersey Tuesday, bringing a bout of wintry weather to contend with during rush hour and after.

We’ve been under the influence of distant areas of high and low pressure the last few days, which introduced alternating periods of sun and clouds with generally seasonal temperatures. A deep mid-level low pressure center is dropping down from northern Canada, bring a fresh charge of Arctic cold for the area. As the leading edge cold front approaches Tuesday morning, winds will blow out of the south in advance of its passage, allowing for a quick warm-up in advance of the cold.

The core of the cold will never quite make it into New Jersey, instead straddling the border between Canada and New England. The southern periphery of the cold air mass will scrape New Jersey Wednesday and Thursday, hence the prolonged period of southerly winds allowing the brief warm-up Tuesday. Just how much warm air climbs the coastal plain Tuesday morning and early afternoon matters to snow accumulation potential as the day goes on. Rain and snow showers will begin by late morning, north first then south. As the afternoon progresses the cold front will slide east across the state, changing everyone to snow by the time precipitation ends. I think north and west of 202, this is an all snow, or mostly snow event with a significant impact on the afternoon commute. Further south and east, there is decreasing potential for an impacted ride home. The Route 1 and Turnpike corridors will likely see snow by sundown, but accumulations will be much less here than in the higher elevations that see more snow earlier in the day. For the Parkway and southern New Jersey, look for a quick burst of snow after dark, with minimal accumulation.

The diurnal cycle will keep temperatures in the 20s on Wednesday during the day, but the closest approach of this polar air mass will be Wednesday night into Thursday. Look for low temperatures below zero in northern New Jersey Wednesday night, and single digits elsewhere. Thursday’s highs will be in the teens, and overnight lows Thursday into Friday will again plunge towards or into the single digits.

The cold is transient however, and we look to moderate as the weekend approaches. Some light snow is possible Friday, before a quiet weekend with seasonal temperatures.

Expect 3 or 4 inches of snow north and west of Route 202 by Wednesday morning, with a couple inches in Mercer and Middlesex Counties, and a coating to an inch further south and east. The timing will be critical Tuesday, as the arrival of the cold will coincide with the drive home. The heaviest precipitation rates will coincide with the rain/snow line, so commuters may drive from plain rain into moderate snow. Consider leaving a little early tomorrow, particularly if you’re in the northern half of the state. For the rest of the week, bundle up!