Powerful nor’easter packing a punch

BY John Cifelli, Meteorologist |
  • Rain and snow continues into early evening
  • Winds increase through the afternoon
  • Major coastal flooding expected through Saturday evening

Our nor’easter is unfolding this morning across New Jersey, throwing a wide variety of weather challenges from High Point to Cape May. Over 2 inches of rain fell in parts of northern New Jersey this morning. A transition to snow has taken place in the far reaches of elevated northern New Jersey. Elsewhere in North and Central New Jersey, locations flip between steady wet snow and rain or drizzle. This will continue throughout the afternoon, as precipitation type will be dependent on intensity. When precipitation falls hardest, it will be snow. When it lessens, it will rain.

Accumulations are a varied story. Already some spots in Sussex and Morris Counties have reported close to 6 inches. These spots are going to eclipse the 4 to 8 inches forecast Thursday night. I mentioned in that forecast that a band could press across Central and Northern New Jersey to increase totals outside the 2-4″ or C-2″ bands that were forecast. That’s happening somewhat, in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties in particular. As of 11 a.m., it’s very easily seen in a band on radar from northeast Pennsylvania into Ocean County.

Winds are just starting to pick up in intensity. Winds have gusted over 30 mph at all reporting stations along the coast. Wildwood reported a gust to 55 mph, and a buoy southeast of Cape May did the same. Mesoscale modelling hasn’t backed off from wind intensity forecasts, and this afternoon will see gusty winds increase statewide, particularly along the coast. If it’s snowing when these winds crank up, visibility will quickly drop. Blizzard conditions are possible, and this coincides with the afternoon commute.

The wind intensity, coupled with soggy ground and wet snow, will bring down trees and power lines. Already almost 10,000 to 15,000 people are without power across the state. That number will quickly rise through the afternoon and evening.

Coastal flooding was Moderate or Major at most reporting stations with this morning’s high tide. The next two tides will meet or exceed this morning’s water levels. Coastal flooding remains the biggest, or second biggest impact of this storm. It was never all about the snow this time around.

Regardless of whether or not snow accumulates on the roads where you are, when it is snowing and windy, the commute will be slow and treacherous. If you have the ability to get where you are going sooner than later, do so. The weekend will bring fair skies and temperatures rebound through the 40s. As the nor’easter slowly slides out to sea, flooding remains an impact for those along the shore.