NJ weather: Temperatures up and down this week, watching late-week coastal storm
The Bottom Line
In case you're keeping score, the first 23 days of January featured 13 days with below-normal temperatures across New Jersey. We will add to that total this week, although there will be some warmer days and some colder days along the way.
The big thing to watch is a potential coastal storm in the Friday night to Saturday time frame. If it comes close enough to the coast, substantial snowfall would be on the table. Highly track dependent, so we have to play this one out very carefully. For now, it is definitely worth watching.
Parts of New Jersey (especially to the north) are waking up to a dusting or coating of snow on the ground from snow showers Sunday night. Temperatures are starting out in the 20s across the board — pretty typical for late January.
We have once again entered a colder air mass for Monday. But it's not that much colder than our last one. High temperatures should reach the mid 30s — slightly cooler than Sunday, slightly above freezing. Let's call skies mostly sunny Monday morning, then partly sunny Monday afternoon. It will be a dry, quiet weather day.
Monday night will be somewhat unusual, as temperatures slowly rise through early Tuesday morning. We'll average 30 degrees. A batch of showers (snow or rain) is possible too, although I'm not worried about accumulations or travel issues.
The warmest day of the week! In fact, Tuesday looks like our only day this week with temperatures at or above seasonal normals.
Most thermometers should hit 40 to 45 degrees Tuesday afternoon. The day will start with clouds, with increasing sunshine later on.
Another cold front will arrive around sunset Tuesday. The frontal passage will be dry, but will cause temperatures to drop sharply Tuesday evening. By Wednesday morning, we'll bottom out on either side of 20 degrees across the state.
Back into the deep freezer. For the fourth time this month, high temperatures will be stuck in the mid 20s, at best. Below freezing all day, statewide.
But remember the bright side: Cold air is dry air. So skies will be bright and sunny. And both our air and our weather will be very dry.
Thursday morning will be the bottom of the barrel of our next cold snap, with temperatures in the single digits and teens. Afternoon highs will be a little better than Wednesday, near the freezing mark, in the lower 30s. And again, our weather will be sunny and dry.
Friday & Beyond
Things will start to turn a bit more unsettled on Friday, with clouds taking over the skies and a few spotty showers possible throughout the day. Temperatures will range from mid 30s in North Jersey to lower 40s in South Jersey.
As I mentioned above, there is one opportunity left in January for a significant winter storm, coming up Friday night into Saturday. It's a coastal storm system, and we'll be on the cold side of it. So if it drifts close enough to our coastline, it would be an "all-snow" situation. (Expect perhaps along the immediate coast, where warmer air and mixing may occur.)
The weather impacts will be highly track dependent, so this is a precarious forecast. Depending upon which model you believe, there are three overarching scenarios in play:
—Total Miss... The storm system swings out to sea, and we experience only clouds, a stiff breeze, and some rough surf.
—Glancing Blow... The outer bands of snow clip the state, enough to produce "a few inches" of snow accumulation by Saturday morning, especially in coastal areas.
—Direct Hit... It wouldn't take much of a wiggle for the storm track to align along a "worst case scenario" for New Jersey, producing "substantial" snowfall.
I'm not even ready to note which of those scenarios are most likely at this point. I know that doesn't give you much information. But we're still something like 108 hours away from "first flakes" — way too early to give any confident or accurate details. All we can say it's that the storm setup is worth watching. And then we sit and watch and wait.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.