Moderate snow event Saturday night

BY John Cifelli, Meteorologist |
  • Weak low pressure to pass south of New Jersey Saturday night
  • Accumulating snow likely for central and northern New Jersey
  • Fair weather during the daytime Saturday and Sunday

We had springlike weather on Thursday and most of Friday, and temperatures are headed to the 60s again next week. In between these tastes of spring, we have a dose of winter on tap for Saturday night.

Friday felt like a spring day for a time, with temperatures running 10 to 15 degrees above average. A cold front is pressing through the state, and we will gradually cool through the rest of the afternoon and evening, settling into the 20s statewide tonight. The respite is short-lived as clouds will return during the day Saturday, and rain and snow showers begin around 4 or 5 p.m. As the evening progresses, snow falls, moderate at times in central and northern New Jersey. The peak looks to be 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday night into Sunday morning. It’s over well before daybreak, and we will see temperatures quickly rebound through the 40s. This should make for a quick cleanup.

This is all compliments of a weak wave of developing low pressure passing through the Ohio Valley and sliding to our south off the mid-Atlantic coast. Eventually this will consolidate into a more bona fide surface low, but this will occur after it has exited our region. We’re not in a very favorable pattern for a snow maker, evidenced by the warm weather occurring immediate before and after the storm. It’s a very marginal temperature situation, both aloft and at the surface. This is the kind of scenario where subtle differences in track and intensity will mean the difference between a couple inches and significantly more. Model guidance has a pretty remarkable spread of possible solutions. I am hedging slightly toward the less snowy outcomes given poor upper level support for developing low pressure, and the overall unfavorable pattern that this storm will exist in. On the other hand, this is climatologically the snowiest time of the year, so despite poor setups, this is when things tend to “work out” for snow.

Cape May, Cumberland, and coastal Atlantic and Ocean Counties might see a brief period of snow, but I think it’s too warm this far south for any accumulation. Central New Jersey is in line for a couple inches, with less along the coast. A mix with or change to rain will cut down on accumulations, and you might wake up to find that whatever fell Saturday evening was washed away before dawn Sunday morning. Northwest New Jersey is all but a lock for plowable snow, with a few isolated spots of 6 inches not out of the realm of possibilities. The Turnpike and Route 1 corridors are the big question mark, and that includes the cities and their suburbs, 3 inches is expected for now. If more falls, it will be late Saturday night when most people aren’t awake or considering travel anyhow.

Sunday looks sunny, overall a really nice day. By midweek next week, we have a good chance of seeing at least two days with temperatures in the 60s.