Good melt weather Thursday — NJ’s next storm system, rain
This weary weatherman is pleased to declare that Wednesday's winter storm played out very close to expectations. The top snow total I've seen so far: Marlton, Burlington County at 3.5 inches — right in my 2-4" contour. My forecast fared pretty well — I went a little too low around Cape May County in South Jersey, and a little too high for Bergen County in North Jersey. But for once this winter, we saw Mother Nature behave according to model guidance, especially in terms of the complex timing of the progression from snow to mix to rain.
In case you're keeping score, this was New Jersey's 9th 2+ inch snow event of the 2018-2019 winter season.
Our storm system is pretty much gone as of Thursday morning, with just some residual drizzle and fog around. Unfortunately, temperatures have not risen as much as expected overnight. North Jersey is still hovering near the freezing mark, so there could be some freezing drizzle causing light ice accumulations. (My driveway and car early this morning was covered in a weird mix of slush and ice.)
We'll kickstart the snow and ice melt on Thursday, as high temperatures climb into the lower 50s. (It will be a bit cooler to the north.) Skies will partially clear Thursday morning, with even more sunshine breaking out Thursday afternoon. The only weather nuisance for the day will be a stiff breeze, sustained at 10 to 20 mph with slightly higher gusts.
Usually after a day of solid snow/ice melt, I have to warn of the dreaded refreeze. But Thursday night's low temps are expected to only drop to the freezing mark, in the lower 30s. So I don't think black ice is going to be a big, bad, widespread concern for Friday morning.
Friday looks quiet, with mostly cloudy skies and high temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. That's a hair above normal for late February.
Saturday daytime also looks uneventful, although it does look like a cloudy and somewhat grey day. Temperatures will hold steady, topping out in the mid 40s or so.
As the headline of this post suggests, our next storm system arrives Saturday night, around 10 p.m. I'm reasonably confident that temperatures will remain above freezing for the duration of this one. So we're really looking at a period of rain through at least midday Sunday, totaling about 1/2" to 3/4".
One of the reasons we'll avoid wintry weather this time around? A big warmup will accompany this storm system, potentially pushing thermometers into the 60s on Sunday! (Could we make a run for 70?! Maybe?!)
That burst of warm air won't last though. A strong cold front will sweep out the rain Sunday afternoon, and then introduce a ferociously gusty wind. I'm seeing westerly wind gusts in the neighborhood of 40 to 60 mph — that's enough to blow around garbage cans, and maybe blow down some vulnerable trees and power poles. The cooling wind will cause temperatures to fall steadily through Sunday night.
But is this an arctic blast? Another visit by the polar vortex? Honestly, it's hard to call it either. Temperatures are forecast to bottom out Monday morning around 35 degrees. That's it — still above freezing! Of course, the wind chill will probably end up in the 20s, so it'll be a "bundle up" kind of day.
Monday will be bright and sunny, although also blustery with high temps and wind gusts potentially in the 40s. (Ha, see what I did there?) Tuesday looks seasonable and mostly sunny. And then New Jersey's next next storm system is forecast to arrive next Wednesday-Thursday. Lots of uncertainty here — GFS says rain, the Euro says a few inches of snow. This will be our next one to keep an eye on.