Drying out and thawing out Wednesday: Breaks of sun, gusty wind
For snow lovers, this winter season has been an abject disappointment so far. We've seen a few winter storms, but each one has turned out more sloppy than snowy. Tuesday's storm was no different, as we fell in the narrow meteorological window for mainly sleet and freezing rain. Ice is nasty business! And because of that, snow totals underperformed statewide. (Top report in NJ was about 3 inches.) But I hope you'll agree it was still a disgusting day, with hazardous travel conditions fully warranting the school closures and delays.
Unfortunately, this kind of "partial" forecast bust happens. And there's not much I can do about it — I am not shy in admitting that winter weather forecasting is awful. Nearly impossible. You can get a totally different weather picture if the temperature is 31 degrees vs. 32 degrees vs. 33 degrees. (Both at the surface and up in the atmosphere.) We were literally flipping back and forth on either side of the freezing mark all day. That's something that we just can't forecast for.
Such persistent uncertainty is why I always say to pay attention to the forecast narrative, rather than the numbers (i.e. snow totals). I fully admit and take responsibility for my forecast being off by 2+ hours and 2+ inches of snow. But the overall story was very close: A "mix storm" provided for a very messy day.
Anyway, that storm system is now officially behind us. Radar has cleared out right on time on this Wednesday morning, and we're only facing an isolated snow shower chance through the rest of the day. There are some slippery, icy spots in northern New Jersey, where temperatures have remained at or below normal.
We'll dry out and thaw out Wednesday, with some welcome breaks of sunshine throughout the day. The big annoyance of the day will be the addition of a gusty westerly wind, as high as 35 mph
I've scaled back my high temperature forecast for Wednesday afternoon, for two reasons: 1.) There is actually more snow and ice still on the ground than I anticipated, and 2.) The overnight warmup wasn't quite as remarkable as I expected (46 in South Jersey, rather than 50). I'm now thinking highs will reach 40 to 45 degrees — right around the seasonal normals for mid-February.
Wednesday night will be mostly clear and still breezy. The wind will actually help us out, helping to evaporate almost all of the wet surfaces and meltwater. Obviously, there could still be some frozen puddles and black ice, as low temps drop into the upper 20s. The wind chill may briefly dip into the teens overnight.
I've been promoting Thursday as a pleasant day. And I'm sticking to it! Mostly sunny and dry, with light winds and fairly mild temperatures. Look for highs between 45 and 50 degrees.
Friday's temperatures look even higher, as warmer air briefly surges from the southwest. My latest forecast shows a range of 48 degrees in far North Jersey to 60 (!) degrees in far South Jersey.
However, Friday will be a mostly cloudy day. A cold frontal passage could spark a few rain showers at some point. But that rainfall is not looking as steady as it once did.
We've got a couple of storm chances worth watching coming up over the weekend. The first is a little shortwave that could clip South Jersey during the day on Saturday. At the moment, the GFS model shows a miss, while the Euro depicts a hit with 1 to 3 inches south of Interstate 195. So it's not a guarantee, but certainly close enough to include a chance for snow in Saturday's forecast. Otherwise, skies will be mostly cloudy with high temps in the lower 40s.
Sunday daytime will be quiet, but chilly. Highs will be limited to the upper 30s (thanks to a light on-shore breeze blowing in from the cold ocean).
From Sunday night through early Monday morning, a clipper system is expected to pass across the Garden State. Along with it will come a chance for accumulating snow. Model guidance is currently showing solutions like "1 to 2 inches" and "2 to 4 inches". It looks like timing and temperatures will be conducive to an "all snow," but that's not a guarantee. We'll be watching, especially since the Monday morning commute may be impacted.
The long-range outlook shows quiet weather for the rest of Monday and Tuesday, before our next winter storm chance around the middle of next week.