By Meteorologist John Cifelli
Part one of our three-day weather episode is under way across New Jersey, with sleet and freezing rain the main impact at the moment in the southern half of the state, with accumulating snows further north. The line of mixed precipitation will creep north over the next several hours as temperatures rise both aloft and at the surface. Road conditions will rapidly deteriorate.
Tonight we rise above freezing statewide as we approach morning, so I don’t think we will have any concerns with the morning drive, other than some light rainfall. Sidewalks and drives will likely be a slushy mess, but at least it won’t be icy with temperatures above freezing. Tomorrow will be a nasty day in its own right, with lingering showers, cloud cover and temperatures in the 30s and low 40s.
Wednesday evening, a cold front presses across New Jersey before stalling southeast of the state, just off the coast. A weak wave of low pressure will ride along the frontal boundary and reinvigorate the precipitation shield. Winds will be out of the northwest and we will be in a cooling regime as a result. Rain will transition to snow northwest to southeast, with perhaps a period of sleet in between. I think the wintry precip holds off until after the evening rush, but it’d be wise to stay put tomorrow night. Steadier snow arrives toward dawn as the rain/snow line continues to sag southeast toward the coast. Everyone in New Jersey sees snow on Thursday.
This system is the result of a sharpening 500mb trough that drops into the central United States today, and phases with subtropical jetstream energy. It is fairly rigorous with ample moisture. Snow will fall heavy and in bands at times early Thursday, particularly south of the Route 202 corridor. The snowfall map represents my expectations at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I adjusted these slightly upward. Of course climatology says “not so fast” with March snowstorms, and it will be a heavy, wet snow for the first few hours, but at the end of the day this will be the heaviest snowfall of the year for some parts of New Jersey that haven’t broken the six-inch mark yet, amazingly. That includes me in Hunterdon County!
By mid-afternoon Thursday, snow is tapering off northwest to southeast as the surface low slides away off the coast. Friday and Saturday are cold but dry. We moderate toward the end of the weekend and I have a hunch we are melting down the snow pack by Monday.