NJ weather: Still blustery Tuesday, watching next rain-snow event
The Bottom Line
The second half of January is "the dead of winter" - the coldest corner of the calendar, on average. So it should be no surprise we're talking about cold and wind. Nor about one or two more opportunities for snow later this week.
Tuesday will be blustery. Wednesday pretty nice. And then a cold front will spark a "rain to snow" kind of event, with nuisance accumulations and travel impacts possible.
Another arctic blast will precede another chance of active weather this weekend. But confidence remains very low about how that may play out.
Believe it or not, we're still facing indirect impacts from that massive, powerful storm system that largely departed New Jersey about 24 hours ago. As deep low pressure departs, and high pressure builds from the southwest, we face more windy weather Tuesday.
Gusts over 20 mph are adding a bite to a chilly morning. Temperatures are starting around 30 degrees, with wind chills in the teens and 20s. We'll reach a high temp around the upper 30s Tuesday afternoon. Just a hair below normal for mid-January. I'm now thinking the wind will stay elevated throughout the daytime hours.
It will be a bright day, with mixed sunshine and clouds. You might see a few flurries flying around, remnants of late-effect snow over New York State. Otherwise, dry and just blustery.
The wind will finally calm Tuesday evening, leading to a clear, fair, quiet, chilly overnight. Low temperatures should dip into the upper 20s for most of New Jersey.
I'm still calling Wednesday the nicest day of the week, even though our next storm system will arrive at night.
During the day, expect partly sunny skies and an occasional breeze. High temperatures should push to about 45 to 50 degrees for all but (snow-covered) North Jersey.
Our next storm system will be a cold front, arriving Wednesday night. Latest model guidance has slowed down the progression of this front into Thursday, making it somewhat more impactful. Even so, every forecast model shows this one will first spark light rain over New Jersey. And no forecast model puts first raindrops over New Jersey before 10 p.m.
Both the forecast and our resulting weather gets more challenging early Thursday morning. As temperatures drop - a factor of the overnight hours, of evaporative cooling, and of the arrival of cooler air behind the front - rain will eventually turn to snow, statewide.
It looks like that rain-to-snow transition will happen just after Midnight in NW NJ (where precipitation intensity will actually be the lightest.) And by about 9 a.m. it will be cold enough along NJ's south coast for snow to fall.
Overrunning situations like this, where rain flips to snow due to a frontal passage, rarely produce big snow totals. Available moisture becomes a big problem as the colder, drier filters in. However, most of the state (away from the warmer coast and drier northwest) could see some light accumulations by about midday Thursday. On the order of an inch or two. (Models go as high as 4" for South Jersey, but I don't buy it.)
I will say that the transition from rain to snow looks quick and "clean," with no threat of substantial icy mix or freezing rain in the middle. 1-2" would classify as "nuisance" snow, enough to cause minor travel difficulties. But nothing debilitating or long-lasting.
In addition to fresh snow cover, another issue on Thursday will be tumbling temperatures. Our new air mass is going to be very cold. So, for the third time in just two weeks, New Jersey will return to arctic chill. Thermometers will descend from mid 30s early Thursday morning into the 20s through the afternoon.
Morning lows in the single digits and teens. Afternoon highs only in the mid 20s. Yup, another frigid January day. It should be mostly sunny and dry though.
The Extended Forecast
There might be a little "something something" brewing for next weekend, centered around Saturday morning. The Euro shows a monster coastal storm pushing through New Jersey, with over a foot of snow accumulation across South Jersey. Wow!
Hold up. You know better than to believe raw model output, right? Especially a 100+ hour snow forecast.
The GFS shows a glancing blow to the southern coast, with a very limited inch or two of snow on the ground there. Adding another possibility to the mix is the UKMET, with a middle-ground 0 to 6 inch forecast for the Garden State.
In other words, guidance is all over the place and confidence is very low.
Over the next 24 hours or so - by Wednesday morning or afternoon - we should start to get resolution on whether this system will be a "hit" or "miss". I will say this - it will be cold enough for an "all snow" situation for all but the immediate coast. However, that cold air dome that settles over the Northeast U.S. will be the major driving factor in whether the storm pushes inland, or shoves out to sea.
Will it be New Jersey's third nor'easter weekend in a row? Or a big nothing-burger. Heck, even I'm on the edge of my seat to see how this one plays out. 'Tis the season for forecast uncertainty. Stay tuned!