3 Chances of snow and very cold temperatures

3 Chances of snow and very cold temperatures

“Dead of Winter” is here. Mid-to-late January is, on average, the coldest time of the year in New Jersey. Normal high temperatures don’t even reach 40 degrees. Normal low temperatures drop into the deep 20s.

We are about a month away from winter. Snowfall so far across central and southern New Jersey has been modest, to say the least. Even North Jersey has only seen two 2-inch snow events so far this season.

At this time, this week represents a marked departure from our recent stretch of generally rainy and warm weather. A polar air mass settles in New Jersey on Sunday. This will open the door to chances of snow falling not once, not twice, but three times this week.

As cold air moves into much of the continental United States this week, our weather pattern will remain active and windy. (accuweather)
As cold air moves into much of the continental United States this week, our weather pattern will remain active and windy. (accuweather)

To be clear, I do not classify any of these three threats as a “major” snowstorm. But there will be accumulations and travel problems, in addition to the extreme cold.

Let’s dive into the details, so you know what to expect.

Cold air, ahoy!

The first and most important weather story of the week is the cold air blast that has already begun. A secondary cold front will enter New Jersey on Sunday, enhancing Arctic cold.

An arctic cold front arrives Sunday, dropping temperatures and triggering snow showers and storms. (accuweather)
An arctic cold front arrives Sunday, dropping temperatures and triggering snow showers and storms. (accuweather)

High temperatures on Sunday will be near 40 degrees, and will likely drop a bit during the afternoon.

Monday morning will be quite chilly. With low temperatures hovering around 20 degrees, even a light 10 mph breeze would put the wind chill in the single digits. Not exactly a “serious” cold, but it is stinging and uncomfortable.

Monday will be quite cold. 20 am. It’s barely 30’s in the afternoon. (accuweather)
Monday will be quite cold. 20 am. It’s barely 30’s in the afternoon. (accuweather)

Temperatures for the rest of the week will struggle to even reach the freezing mark. This is 5 to 10 degrees below normal, even in late winter in late January. I don’t see any sign of warmer, more seasonal weather over the next 7 to 10 days. So pack it up!

Snow Chance No. 1: Snow flurries on Sunday

With the arrival of cold air comes talk of winter weather. It appears that some snow will affect New Jersey’s weather during the day on Sunday.

As the Arctic cold front moves northwest to southeast across the state, it will likely bring a round of snow showers and/or blizzards. It will be brief, but likely to be heavy. accompanied by winds exceeding 30 mph.

The HRRR model forecast for midday Sunday shows snow storms forming in North Jersey. It will be short and compact, but heavy snow could lead to near-whiteout conditions. (DuPage College of Meteorology)
The HRRR model forecast for midday Sunday shows snow storms forming in North Jersey. It will be short and compact, but heavy snow could lead to near-whiteout conditions. (DuPage College of Meteorology)

The timing of the most likely stormy weather will be the “noon” hours on Sunday. It starts around 10 or 11 a.m. heading northwest. Out of state around 2 or 3 p.m. (Note: Snow can mix with rain or turn to rain in the south and along the coast.)

The issue here is no Accumulation. It’s the vision. Snow storms can be extremely dangerous for drivers, as near-whiteout conditions suddenly take over the road. Be extra alert – keep your hands on the wheel, scan the horizon, and watch for slick spots. If your phone receives a blizzard warning via the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) service, take it seriously.

Snow storms can lead to dangerously reduced visibility. (accuweather)
Snow storms can lead to dangerously reduced visibility. (accuweather)

Snow Chance No. 2: Light snow on Tuesday

This mid-week storm system has been teased on the interwebs for about a week. Now that we have some clarity and realism in expectations? Honestly, it’s a hot mess.

The NAM model forecast early Tuesday morning shows persistent light snow across New Jersey, which could lead to a few inches of accumulation and slippery travel by Tuesday afternoon. (DuPage College of Meteorology)
The NAM model forecast early Tuesday morning shows persistent light snow across New Jersey, which could lead to a few inches of accumulation and slippery travel by Tuesday afternoon. (DuPage College of Meteorology)

Forecast models agreed that light snow would fall in New Jersey on Tuesday, from the early morning hours until the afternoon. Emphasis on the word “light.” This storm system no It will be particularly dynamic, severely limiting the chance of heavy rain. In addition, our air will be very cold and therefore very dry. If snow is able to form and reach the ground, it will be light and fluffy.

Some models have suggested a transition to a wintry mix or rain showers late Tuesday along the South Coast, as warm air accompanies the core of this storm system. Another possibility we’ll have to watch.

I think over 4 inches by the end of Tuesday is a reasonable expectation for “maximum” snow accumulation. (Because it is light and fluffy, the percentage of snow is higher and will allow for higher totals.) This is advisory level (not warning level) snowfall. It’s certainly enough to cause some slippery travel late in the day.

Snow is expected to fall Monday night into Tuesday. New Jersey is expected to pick up 1-3 inches of new accumulation. (Accuweather)
Snow is expected to fall Monday night into Tuesday. New Jersey is expected to pick up 1-3 inches of new accumulation. (Accuweather)

Instead of publishing a detailed “official” snow map of this system yet, let’s just call it that 1 to 3 inches For the entire country. The highest totals are in the north and west. I’ll refine that on Monday morning, closer to it.

Snow Chance No. 3: Friday

There is a sign this weekend of another possible winter storm. He can be the most influential in the group.

Friday’s GFS model forecast shows a more powerful storm system developing offshore. (DuPage College of Meteorology)
Friday’s GFS model forecast shows a more powerful storm system developing offshore. (DuPage College of Meteorology)

The GFS model favors a coastal storm affecting New Jersey during daylight hours on Friday, possibly continuing into Friday night. This solution is “specific to South Jersey” — more than 6 inches of snow is being dumped along the southern and eastern edges of the state. More like 3+ inches to the north and west.

But our friend the Euro model? He has a big fat thing.

This is the story of winter. One form says “hit” and the other says “miss.” Ensemble forecast models, which are key to resolving this type of conflict, lean more toward snow rather than no snow. So that’s the direction I’m leaning towards on Friday, although I’m not completely convinced at this point.

As always, let’s take this one storm at a time. Let’s get through Sunday’s storms and Tuesday’s sideways sweep, and then we’ll focus on late week potential. Keep your plans flexible for Friday (and perhaps Saturday), and keep an eye on the forecast.

Let it snow: 12 things to know about winter forecasting in New Jersey

Gallery source: Dan Zarrow

Dan Zarrow is Townsquare Media New Jersey’s chief meteorologist. Follow him on Facebook to get the latest forecasts and real-time weather updates.

First flake: When does snow season start in New Jersey?

Gallery source: Dan Zarrow

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