NJTV News Weather: Snowfall Predicted as Spring Begins

20160318_SnowMapSquareBy John Cifelli
NJTV News Meteorlogist

– A late season winter storm will affect New Jersey from Saturday evening through Sunday evening

– The worst impact looks to be Sunday afternoon

– Accumulating snow will be the biggest concern in northern New Jersey

The daffodil and crocus are sorely mistaken! Astronomical spring arrives on Sunday, but before we can close the book on winter, the Old Man has one more page to write. A cold front pressed across New Jersey Friday, which was responsible for the gusty winds, clouds and marked change in temperature from what we experienced most of the week. This cooler, drier air will set the table for a developing low traversing the lower Ohio Valley, slated to spread precipitation across the mid-Atlantic beginning Saturday afternoon, and lingering in our area through Sunday evening.

The upper level energy over the Midwest that will spawn the developing surface low has not consolidated and focused on one “main event” that will affect New Jersey over the next couple of days. As a result, lighter precipitation will fall over southern New Jersey and the Philly metro area Saturday late afternoon and evening, and steadier precipitation will build into the northern half of the state and the New York City metro in response to a second wave of low pressure on Sunday. This late in March, lighter snows during the daytime will struggle to accumulate, especially on paved surfaces. To get snow to pile up on the roads, precipitation intensity/snowfall rates must overcome sun angle, the warmth of the antecedent air mass and ground temperatures currently in the 40s. Some of what falls as snow will melt before accumulating. To complicate things further, surface air temperatures along and south of the Atlantic City Expressway will be marginal, beginning above freezing before cooling with the onset of steadier precipitation.

It is the second wave on Sunday that will have the best chance of bringing snowfall to New Jersey on the eve of spring. If the first wave Saturday afternoon and evening is more robust, it will lessen the impact of Sunday’s snows as a result. Vice versa, the less rain or snow that impacts southern New Jersey on Saturday will result in heavier snowfall rates and accumulations on Sunday.

At this point, I expect a long period of light to moderate snow (north) and rain/snow mix (south) Saturday, ending as all snow statewide on Sunday afternoon and early evening. Snow will accumulate easiest on unpaved surfaces, but there will likely be a travel impact north of 195 Sunday afternoon.

Snowfall totals will be generally three to four inches across New Jersey, with less in the far south and along the coast, and the best bet of higher amounts north and west of New York City. Six or seven inch jackpots may fall in the elevations of Sussex, Passaic and Warren counties.

It is not easy to have a significant winter weather event in late March in New Jersey, but 2016 is going to challenge that narrative.