By Meteorologist John Cifelli
After a relatively quiet start to the winter, some dramatic changes to the forecast are at hand, with three threats for snowfall in the next seven days for New Jersey. Yesterday I alluded to some potential “coastal mischief” that could affect southern and coastal New Jersey over the weekend. The biggest winter weather threat of the season is now on the table, and all of New Jersey can be affected.
First, we have a clipper system to deal with for Wednesday. Computer guidance has had fits nailing down the details with this one, but now that the upper level weather features that will lead to its evolution are over land in the Pacific northwest, the forecast is beginning to become more focused. Really, this one should be properly codified as a “Sasketchuwan Screamer,” as the point of entry into the U.S. is from just north of the Montana/Dakotas border. Clippers hail from Alberta, one province to the west. Semantics, eh?
The system will move through the Ohio Valley overnight and be positioned between Pennsylvania and West Virginia Wednesday morning. As the day goes on, clouds thicken and precipitation begins. South Jersey will see precipitation first, and it will be interesting to see how much warming occurs in the morning, which will dictate precipitation types at the onset. Light snow will move into central and northern New Jersey as evening approaches. There are still some questions as to the timing of the system. Commuters in far northern New Jersey and New York City might sneak home a little early and beat the weather home.
Rain in far southern New Jersey and coastal areas will change to snow as the evening progresses. As the system reaches the coast, there may be some intensification of the surface low before it moves northeast. For some in southern or even central New Jersey along 195 or so, this could lead to intensity shifting to a point where visibility is tough for a period. I think everyone sees accumulation with this storm. The greatest impact will be in a belted area that sees the best lift and dynamics without starting as a period of rain. If you are in interior southern New Jersey and start off as snow, expect the 3 inches.
A few lingering flurries or snow showers in places to start the day on Thursday will depart and with sunshine we will be seasonal with temperatures in the 30s.
As for the weekend, a coastal storm looks likely, with the track a large question, as it always is at this point. Plenty of time yet to chase this one, but it has the potential to bring the largest snowfall of the year to New Jersey. It also can be a rainmaker, as it is strictly a “southern stream” system at this point, and cold air may be in short supply. There’s a storm on the table for Monday too. Buckle up, winter is about to take us for a ride!