Bracing for a Beast: South Jersey Prepares for Up to 18″ of Snow, Coastal Flooding
As snow begins to fall in the predawn hours of Monday morning, here is Lite Rock Meteorologist Dan Zarrow's South Jersey forecast...
TODAY... LIGHT TO MODERATE SNOW, WINTRY MIX, AND RAIN... A FEW INCHES OF ACCUMULATION POSSIBLE BY EVENING COMMUTE... WINDY... HIGHS IN THE MID 30S
TONIGHT... PERIODS OF HEAVY SNOW AND GUSTY WINDS... NEAR-BLIZZARD CONDITIONS EXPECTED, CAUSING VERY LOW VISIBILITY... SNOW ACCUMULATIONS FOR SOUTH JERSEY WILL LIKELY RANGE FROM 6 TO 18 INCHES... HEAVIEST SNOWFALL WILL OCCUR NORTH AND EAST... LOWS IN THE 20S
TOMORROW... SNOW AND GUSTY WINDS CONTINUE, FOR AT LEAST PART OF THE DAY... HIGHS IN THE LOWER 30S
WEDNESDAY... CLEARING SKIES... STIFF BREEZE CAUSING BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW... HIGHS IN THE LOWER 30S
Our first major winter storm of the season is expected to bury New Jersey in snow tonight, with up to 2 feet of accumulation expected under blizzard conditions.
The snowflakes have begun flying in New Jersey, and a slow increase in intensity will peak with blizzard conditions late tonight. As we have been discussing all weekend, snow accumulations from New Jersey through New York City, Long Island, and New England will be measured in feet instead of inches. Even the National Weather Service has called this storm a “crippling and potentially historic blizzard”.
Here’s everything you need to know about the forecast for the impending blizzard…
The first snowflakes arrived last night, but the initial bands of snow, wintry mix, and rain have been very light. In fact, through the daytime hours today, the snow won’t be *that* bad. Bands of light to moderate snow could make for a tricky but manageable morning commute, and we could have icy conditions and accumulations of up to 3 inches by the evening commute. If you can leave work or school early today, that would be a very wise decision.
The issues will escalate significantly after sunset tonight, through the overnight hours, into Tuesday morning. Bands of very heavy snow – over an inch an hour – are expected, along with winds gusts up to about 50 MPH.
The technical definition of a “blizzard” according to the National Weather Service says a storm must have:
- sustained wind or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater
- falling and/or blowing snow
- frequently reduced visibility to less than 1/4
- a duration of 3 hours or longer
That’s right – a textbook blizzard technically has more to do with visibility than with snow totals or temperatures.
Blizzard conditions are expected through the worst part of the storm, and so the NWS has issued a Blizzard Warning for Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties from Monday afternoon until Tuesday night. (I would expect the warning to be cancelled early if blizzard conditions subside.) This area of the state is on the edge of the overall bullseye of the storm, which extends northeastward through New York City, Long Island, and New England. This area of New Jersey will likely net 18 to 24 inches of new snow, in addition to experiencing near-zero visibilities. Travel will be next to impossible during and after the height of the storm.
The rest of the state is under a less-intense-but-still-hazardous Winter Storm Warning. With much of that area prone to receive a foot of snow or more, and similar wind gusts to the blizzard area, it’s still going to be a very significant winter event statewide.
18 to 24 inches of snow is expected for Northeast New Jersey through Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. 12 to 18 inches of snow is expected a bit further west. And along the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay, the forecast is for 6 to 12 inches of snow.
You read that right – everywhere and everyone in the state should expect to see no less than 6 inches of snow from this storm. Beyond that point, semantics and details don’t matter… the state will be buried in snow by Tuesday morning.
One of the challenges of this storm will be the fierce wind which will be gusting to about 50 MPH. That will keep the snow constantly blowing around, therefore keeping visibility very low through the entire storm. Snow drifts will be impressive, and likely will be measured in feet. In addition, the strong winds and heavy snow increase the risk for power outages, which would make a bad situation even worse without power, light, and heat.
A Coastal Flood Warning is in effect from Monday evening through late Monday night, calling for “moderate” flooding along all coastal areas of New Jersey. Of particular concern is the high tide that will occur just after midnight early Tuesday morning. According to the National Weather Service, the following peak tides are predicted:
- Sandy Hook: High tide occurs at 1:07 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level of 7.5 to 8.0 feet above mean lower low water.
- Seaside Heights: High tide occurs at 12:37 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level near 7.0 feet above mean lower low water.
- Atlantic City: High tide occurs at 12:50 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level near 7.0 feet above mean lower low water.
- Cape May: High tide occurs at 1:24 AM Tuesday, with a forecast tide level 7.5 to 8.0 feet above mean lower low water.
This level of flooding will flood numerous roadways that are especially prone to coastal floods. Some property damage and moderate beach erosion are also possible, according to the NWS.
If you haven’t stocked up on supplies yet, it may be too late as grocery stores across New Jersey are likely running very low on their inventory of “bread and milk”. French toast supplies aside, it’s important to realize this is a significant weather event, and no one should be caught unaware or surprised. Take precautions now, such as purchasing food, getting gas for snowblowers and vehicles, and canceling or postponing travel plans for Monday night and possibly Tuesday.
Here is additional storm preparedness information from the Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management
With a winter storm warning in effect for our area from noon on Monday through 6 PM on Tuesday as Winter Storm Juno barrels across the Northeast, Atlantic County emergency management and public works officials are closely monitoring weather forecasts and making preparations for the potential of significant accumulations of snow, sleet and ice with 30-40 mph wind gusts, and minor to moderate coastal flooding.
The storm is expected to start with a mix of rain and snow on Monday morning before becoming all snow Monday evening and continuing, heavy at times, through Tuesday. The National Weather Service is forecasting the possibility of 10-18 inches of snow for Atlantic County with blowing and drifting that may make travel especially hazardous during Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
In anticipation of the snow, Atlantic County public work crews began salting county roadways on Sunday to help delay snow from accumulating on road surfaces and will do so again on Monday as rain transitions to snow. Snow plows will also be deployed as snow begins to accumulate.
Motorists are reminded to stay well behind salt trucks and snow plows. And when shoveling your driveways, place snow on the “down” street side, to the left of the driveway when facing it from the street.
Residents are encouraged to make preparations NOW by reviewing their family emergency plans; restocking emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, battery-operated radios, non-perishable food and water; charging electronic devices; checking on elderly and infirm relatives and neighbors; fueling vehicles; having cash and prescription medicines on hand; and closely monitoring weather forecasts.
Anyone who experiences a life-threatening emergency should call 9-1-1. For non-life threatening emergencies, contact your local office of emergency preparedness. Contact numbers are available online ReadyAtlantic.org, the county’s emergency website as well as in the blue pages of your phone book.