By John Cifelli
NJTV News Meteorologist
The forecast has quite a wintry look for the rest of the week. We’re headed for the blast chiller as the coldest air of the year looks to be on tap for the weekend, and multiple rounds of snow could add up to half a foot in parts of the state by Wednesday.
Currently, the powerful coastal low that brought light snow to the coast this morning has trudged off to New England. In its wake, northerly winds are draining colder air across the state. We’re at or below freezing almost statewide. A surface low is lingering over the Great Lakes, and a wave of low pressure will develop to our southeast tonight. The combination of the two will create an environment of persistently low pressure over New Jersey for the next 48 hours or so, and as multiple upper level impulses rotate across the mid-Atlantic into this moist, unstable atmospheric environment, they will touch off periods of snow for parts of the state. This intermittent snowfall will begin toward daybreak Tuesday, beginning in southwest New Jersey. Light snow and snow showers should work into the northern half of the state after daybreak, by mid morning. The best bet for steady, significant snows will be interior southern and central New Jersey, from Route 195 to the Expressway, Tuesday late afternoon and evening. Elsewhere, look for lighter snow, more sporadic in nature.
This “inverted trough” setup, where a coastal low interacts with a residual surface low further inland, can cause localized bouts of heavy snow in small, focused areas. These bands are nearly impossible to predict, so it would be best to keep your eye on the radar before venturing outside tomorrow. You could drive 15 miles north to south and go from cloudy skies to heavy snow with accumulations on the road. This is an atypical situation, expect weather surprises Tuesday and Tuesday night.
The lesser discussed impact of this setup is coastal flooding. These waves of low pressure, coupled with high pressure far to our north, will funnel easterly winds along our shoreline, walling up the ocean waters against the beaches and into the bays of New Jersey. High tides, already running high from the New Moon cycle, will be high enough for minor and moderate coastal flooding for the next two tide cycles. Expect the worst of it tomorrow morning, with high tide being on either side of 8 a.m. up and down the coast.
Snowfall accumulations will be significant in places, but that may be misleading. Up to six inches of snow may fall in places, but spread over 24 hours, the impact may be mitigated by the sporadic nature and lighter intensity at times. During the blizzard last month, I was amazed how quickly the road crews reclaimed the blacktop on the major roadways. I certainly do not recommend travel during a snowstorm, but in terms of manageability, this will likely be one of the easier ones for crews to handle. As for totals, expect one to three inches north of 195. Three to six inches falls south of 195, except in Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic counties, where totals may be trimmed a bit by some mixing with rain. Here, expect two to four inches by Wednesday morning.
Wednesday remains cloudy and cold, with a brisk wind to add insult to the chilly injury. From Wednesday through the weekend, many locations will not break above freezing for the entire stretch.