By Meteorologist John Cifelli
Baby, it’s cold outside. Cold for December, cold for any time of the year really (it’s 20 in Sussex County) with many places in New Jersey not getting above freezing during the daylight today. Some light snow and rain showers have fallen in coastal and southern New Jersey today from a few bands of light precipitation that are out ahead of a developing coastal low.
Temperatures will slowly rise through the evening and into the night, as the developing storm approaches. Warmer air will be accompanied by precipitation, particularly as we approach midnight. A powerful Arctic high pressure center in place over SE Canada and Maine, responsible for the cold today, will keep temperatures below freezing for a period overnight tonight across the most northern tier of the state. Here, I am concerned about sleet and snow giving way to icing, and it could have an impact on the morning commute. Residents of northern Sussex, Passaic, and Warren counties should be very careful and alert when leaving for work tomorrow morning.
Everyone sees plain rain throughout the day on Tuesday, with the heaviest rain falling from about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Two inches, or even a little more is possible, so ponding on roadways is a guarantee and flood prone areas will be under threat, especially after the rainfall over the weekend. An equally concerning feature of this storm will be winds. The entrenched powerful high pressure to the north will help produce a strong gradient when contrasted with the developing low, the recipe for a strong wind event. Winds just above the surface will be screaming strong, and I expect this to have some impact at ground level. Winds of 25mph or better can be expected during the day tomorrow, and 35mph+ down along the coastline. Higher gusts statewide will be a precursor for power outages.
Tuesday night, upper level features will “capture” the surface low, and tug it closer to the coast, and cause the storm to linger just northeast of New Jersey for an extended period of time. The system occludes at this point, which gradually weakens the storm, but allows colder air to move back across the state tomorrow night, changing rain to snow from west to east. The stalled system, as it weakens will continue to produce snows of lightening intensity through Tuesday night and into Wednesday. This is where the usual questions come into play- exact storm track will dictate who sees accumulating snows, who sees rain, and who will be dry on Wednesday. Things will be in better perspective tomorrow, but at this point, accumulating snow north and west of I95 seems likely, with plowable snow very possible in higher elevations far north and west.
To summarize- while there may be increasing chatter about snow Tuesday night and Wednesday, I think that the extent of impact of snow is not large and contained mostly to higher elevations of northwest New Jersey. More widespread issues will be winds and rain during the day Tuesday. I’ll continue to monitor and have an update tomorrow.