From near-record 60s Thursday to possible snow this weekend
Is it April or February?
Wednesday was quite lovely, with peeks and blue sky and most high temperatures popping into the lower 50s. Thursday looks even better, and I can provide you with one sentence to demonstrate just how wonderfully warm it will be: The weatherman is wearing a short-sleeved shirt!
As expected, a batch of rain showers traversed the Garden State overnight, so watch out for wet roads as you begin your day. Skies will remain mostly cloudy to overcast throughout Thursday, but I still believe the daytime hours will be mostly dry. (Just in case, I'll keep the going forecast of a stray shower, especially late afternoon.)
Thursday afternoon's high temperatures will soar into the lower to mid 60s across New Jersey. That's 20+ degrees above normal for mid-February, and fairly close to record highs. I'm actually surprised how "high" the record highs are for February 15th: 76 at Newark and 73 at Trenton will likely remain safe, but the existing record of 65 at Atlantic City will be in jeopardy. Truly a springlike day.
Another round of rain will move into New Jersey Thursday evening, starting around 7 p.m. That rain could be steady or heavy at times through the overnight, stepping down to scattered showers by Friday morning.
When's the Cooldown?
Friday will start wet and warm, with morning temperatures holding near 60 degrees. However, here comes the cold front that will put a quick end to the springlike warmth. By sunset Friday, a brisk northwest wind (25+ mph) will push thermometers downward into the 40s. By Friday night, we'll fall into the 20s. Teens are possible in North Jersey by Saturday morning. (Needless to say, my short-sleeved polo shirt will be back in the closet by then.)
Saturday will be chilly overall, with mid to upper 30s for most of the state. South Jersey may touch 40 degrees. We'll start the day with dry air and sunshine, although clouds will quickly increase again by Saturday afternoon.
Wednesday morning's weather blog made first mention of a wintry weather threat for the upcoming weekend, and that chance is still very much alive. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that confidence is growing that we'll see something (whether snow, rain, or both). I don't know that we have any better resolution on forecast details this morning, unfortunately. Poor model consensus and high uncertainty continue to yield many big question marks.
What do we know? Timing. Precipitation could start as early as about 5 p.m. Saturday, and looks to wrap-up by 5 a.m. Sunday. A fairly quick-hitter. It looks like temps aloft (up in the atmosphere) will be below freezing, but surface temps will be iffy. That would lead to a low snow ratio — big snowflakes and moist, heavy snow.
What don't we know? Storm trajectory, which directly impacts precipitation type. There seem to be 3 potential scenarios emerging:
--Rainy (GFS): If the storm's center tracks too far north, we end up in the "warm zone". Also known as the "rain zone". Yup, an "all rain" solution is still on the table, with little to no wintry accumulation across the entire state. Forecast rainfall totals land in the 0.50" to 0.75" neighborhood.
--Snowy (NAM): In this "on the edge" scenario, surface temperatures would struggle to remain cold enough to sustain all snow, especially along the Jersey Shore. For northern and western New Jersey, we'd accumulate upwards of 2 to 5 inches of snow before potentially changing to rain at the very end. Along the coast, it would be all rain.
--Very Snowy (Euro): The European model seems to paint a "perfect storm" setup for this system, as the combination of track and temperatures puts New Jersey right in the bullseye of snow accumulations. Latest data suggests a stripe of 6 to 8 inches of snow accumulation along the NJ Turnpike corridor, with slightly less (2 to 4 inches) to the northwest and southeast.
Which model solution do I prefer at this time? I'm leaning toward the middle of the road "some snow accumulation" forecast. The Euro just seems a bit too bullish to me, especially given dubious temperatures.
Contrary to some social media hype, feet of snow and blizzard conditions are not expected.
Unless there's a significant forecast shift, I'll make a more definitive call and draw up a snowfall forecast map Friday morning.
Any snow that falls and accumulates through Sunday morning won't last long, as another warmup will carry us through next week. We'll return to sunshine by Sunday late morning, with afternoon high temperatures near 50 degrees. We'll see more 50s on Monday, with some late-day showers. And then the warmth kicks up another notch through the middle of the week — could we make a run for 70 degrees next Tuesday or Wednesday?