WEATHER

Wintry Wednesday expected for New Jersey

BY John Cifelli, Meteorologist |
  • Snow and sleet arrive mid-morning across New Jersey
  • Bigger impact on the evening commute
  • Greatest accumulations expected in north/central New Jersey

Another round of wintry weather is expected Wednesday in the form of a “kitchen sink” storm arriving just after the morning commute in southern New Jersey, and northern reaches of the state by early afternoon. Snow, sleet, and rain will be felt across the state Wednesday during the day and night, and some pockets of freezing rain could have an impact in parts of northwest New Jersey as well.

The setup is similar to last week’s midweek storm, as a weak surface low will track well to the north and west of the state, while a strong surface high pressure will retreat east-northeast away from New Jersey. The results will also be similar, as a snow to wintry mix to rain scenario is likely to play out Wednesday afternoon. The mesoscale features of this storm are different however. As a result, a little more snow looks likely, whereas last week’s precipitation fell mostly as sleet. The heaviest snow and sleet will fall in central and interior northern New Jersey from mid-afternoon through early evening. Snow could fall heavily in this window of time in a band across central and northern New Jersey, making travel difficult at this critical time of day for the roads. Those under this band will see the heaviest accumulations, while sinking air just to the north will cut down on snow totals. That explains the somewhat atypical appearance of the accumulation map.

The strong surface high just to our northeast will force the surface low to slide well to our north and west, which will prevent this band of steadier precipitation to move north across the furthest north portions of the state. The surface high will also reinforce cold air, keeping precipitation as snow longer than last week’s snow to mix to rain event. Those who see the highest accumulations will be in the part of the state that experiences the northernmost progression of the snow band. South of here warm air will bring an earlier change of frozen precipitation to rain. Further north, dry air will slow the saturation of the atmosphere early, and some of the snow that falls from the middle levels of the atmosphere will evaporate before it reaches the surface and accumulates. Coupled with sinking air on the northern edge of the central New Jersey snow band, this will cut down on accumulation totals.

Northwest New Jersey could see a period of freezing rain after the rush hour. Warren, Sussex, and western Morris County are the most likely to have a glaze of ice fall on top of snow and sleet accumulations. Precipitation ends as plain rain for most, and sleet or freezing rain north of Route 80 after midnight. Skies will clear for Thursday morning.

All said and told, like last week this is not a major winter storm. However, the timing of the heaviest snow and sleet will coincide with the evening drive for millions of New Jersey residents. Give yourself extra time and drive cautiously on Wednesday. We all will enjoy sunshine and temperatures into the 50s on Thursday.