By Meteorologist John Cifelli for NJTV News
A few things to note. Wow, it is cold in Sussex County. If I thought they were going to get the same amount of precipitation as Monmouth County, we would be counting it in feet up there. But I don’t…so we won’t. Also of note is that we are close to saturation in Cape May County, and the surface temperatures are well below 32. So even here, we will start as snow. Call our friends near Delaware the “canary in the cold mine.” As goes Cape May, so goes the rest of South Jersey, meaning if they start as snow, accumulations will be significant everywhere in the southern part of the forecast area.
Snow begins an hour or so on either side of midnight statewide. Nearing daybreak, I expect things to be changing over in Cape May, Cumberland, Salem and Atlantic counties. Throughout the morning, a tongue of warmer air will spread first aloft then to the surface across the rest of southern and central New Jersey before the aforementioned “dry slot” punches through the coastal part of the state, shutting precipitation for a period, and lightening it as far west as the Turnpike. So expect a snow to sleet to rain to nothing scenario as the morning progresses in these parts of the state. This doesn’t mean you can hit the roads. The damage will have been done with significant accumulation.
Further north, I still think a stripe of icing is possible somewhere between Routes 1 and 202, while northwestern New Jersey hangs on to snow. A lull in the precipitation here is less likely, but things may lighten to the point where accumulation isn’t occurring.
Last night I discussed the “comma head,” a feature of mature storm systems that allow “back end” snows to develop and accumulate. I do think that this is going to happen with this powerful, dynamic system that looks primed to pack a punch. I ain’t no rope-a-dope, so I’ve got my eye keenly on the possibility of seeing accumulating snow restart as we approach day’s end, particularly in northeastern New Jersey. Thus, the totals are being bumped up ever so slightly across the forecast area away from the coast and south, and more significantly close to New York City where I really think the upper level features will reinvigorate snowfall to the tune of another 3-6 inches. Favored higher elevations in Passaic County are under the gun for the jackpot zone as far as snow totals.
No one should be caught off guard by the possibility of power loss. This storm means business. A heavy, wet snow on already stressed trees and a preexisting snow pack will put power lines at risk, and make it especially difficult to clear.
Everyone wakes up Friday to a chilly, breezy day to dig out. Saturday, much of the same, with yet another chance for some light snow, particularly in South Jersey. Then we see a merciful relenting of the wintry pattern. How would you like to see a temperature in the 50s next week? Maybe, but only if you’re good.