No rest for the weary, midweek nor’easter threatens New Jersey

BY John Cifelli, Meteorologist |

As of Monday, some residents are still without power from the storm last Friday. There’s no rest for the weary, as our next big weather maker is on the doorstep, arriving Tuesday night. I don’t think that our midweek storm will have quite the broad array of high-level impacts, such as significant coastal flooding, powerful winds and widespread power outages. It will, however, bring more snow to a wider part of the state.

Tuesday night, low pressure approaches New Jersey from the upper Midwest Ohio Valley. Precipitation breaks out after the evening rush, as rain showers in southern New Jersey, a rain/snow mix in central New Jersey, and light snow in the north. Precipitation will be light overnight, and snow will be slow to accumulate. Wednesday morning, energy transfers from the primary low to a developing coastal low east of the Delmarva Peninsula. Precipitation increases in intensity as the day progresses, and as the coastal low slides slowly to the northeast, cold air will filter on the back side of the low, changing rain showers to snow everywhere, except perhaps along the immediate coast and in extreme southern New Jersey.

The storm peaks Wednesday afternoon. As the storm matures, a band of heavy snow will develop and press into northern and perhaps central New Jersey. Under this band, snowfall rates will be prolific, over 1 inch per hour. Driving in these conditions will be extremely dangerous and difficult. Being almost 48 hours out, it’s much too early to pinpoint where exactly this band will set up, who sees the heavy rates and the areas that will withstand the highest accumulations.

Computer model guidance is in really good agreement at this range, but there are still subtle changes in track that could affect the dispersion of snow totals. A slightly westward track along the shore could bring a dry slot on the east side of the low, into Monmouth County, Staten Island, and New Jersey suburbs of New York City. A track slightly to the east of currently forecast will allow for a quicker change to snow and higher accumulations along the shore. Of course, exact path of the surface low will dictate where that narrow band of very heavy snow sets up. It could be as far west as the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border, or as far east as western Long Island.

Snow and rain winds down and ends Wednesday night. Thursday will be a fair day to dig out, with temperatures back into the low 40s.

Moderate snow totals are likely along and north of I-195, with 6-10 inches will fall. There will be a bit more under that heavy band, to be determined by exactly where it sets up. Placing bets on the highest elevations in Sussex, Morris, and Western Passaic Counties is usually a good bet climatologically. For now, I will lean on that climatology for where I like the higher totals to pile up. By this time tomorrow, mesoscale and short-range modeling can give input as well. The threat of heavy snow, low visibility, and treacherous travel can’t be understated Wednesday afternoon under that band.

Further south, totals will be lower as we start with a period of rain in southern and coastal portions of New Jersey Tuesday night, and maybe Wednesday morning. Precipitation ends southwest to northeast, shortening the window that snow might be able to accumulate. Along the extreme coast, expect a slush inch or so, with a couple inches in interior southern New Jersey.