NJ weather: Will weekend cold blast lead to wintry weather next week?
The Bottom Line
Just like that, our three week stretch of dormant weather comes to an end. A burst of cold wind this weekend will lead to an extended stretch of below-normal temperatures. And then our next storm system early next week could produce some messy, wintry weather. But don't read everything you read on the internet - I have serious doubts about whether this will be a "major" winter storm.
Quiet, aside from a few snowflakes. And our warmest day for the next week at least. (Uh-oh!)
Friday morning is running 10 to 20 degrees warmer than Thursday morning, thanks to partial cloud cover, a slight uptick in humidity, and a very weak warm front in the vicinity. There's still a chill in the air, of course, with temperatures mainly in the 30s (some 20s north, some 40s south).
Morning sun will lead to some clouds building Friday afternoon. Not a bad January day at all, with high temperatures in the lower to mid 40s. (Similar to Thursday.) It will be breezy at times.
In addition, a wave of scattered snow showers looks to drive through the northern third to half of the state in the late afternoon and evening hours. I don't expect anything more than a coating on the ground. But there could be some pockets of reduced visibility and slippery spots, especially the farther north in the state you go.
Temperatures will start to tumble Friday night, as colder air arrives on a brisk northwest wind. Overnight lows will predominantly dip into the lower 20s.
Saturday & Sunday
Cold + Windy = Blustery. (Brrr!)
High temperatures only in the lower 30s (barely to the freezing mark). Northwesterly wind gusts to 35 mph. You do that math, and you get a wind chill ("feels like" temperature) in the teens for most of Saturday. It's only our second real cold snap of the 2020-21 winter season - hopefully you remember how to bundle up!
At least skies will be mostly sunny, and our weather and air will be bone-dry throughout the weekend. (Dew points will be in the single digits on Saturday.)
Sunday will only be slightly better. We'll eventually progress from sun to clouds. It will still be breezy and cold, with highs in the mid 30s.
Monday & Tuesday
Potentially messy and wintry. (Gasp!)
There's already a ton of buzz (and, dare I say, hype) about a storm system arriving in the Monday night to Tuesday time frame. And some of the attention is absolutely justified, as confidence is growing that we'll see some snow/ice accumulations and generally poor travel. However, a lot of the hype seems premature. (For the record, it is incredibly frustrating when forecasters and media outlets aim to be first rather than right.)
With about 84 hours to go until first flakes/drops, we still have to play this out very carefully. There are still several plausible model scenarios for this storm system, which result in a wide variety of potential weather conditions across New Jersey. That is why forecast confidence is low, and why it's premature to piece together precise details at this point.
I don't want to give a play-by-play of each model's output. And I don't want to lay out specific storm scenarios either. But let me lay out five bullet points that will hopefully give you a general idea of where this forecast is leaning given the latest model guidance. (It will also provide an easy way to verify my forecast post-storm.)
1.) It looks like a "hit," for at least part of New Jersey. All major models are now showing some combination of snow, icy mix, and rain falling over New Jersey. Exact impacts for each corner of the state would be highly track and temperature dependent, as usual.
2.) Monday daytime should be fine. Storm arrival looks to be late Monday. Departure late Tuesday into early Wednesday.
3.) I do not see this being a "major" winter storm for New Jersey. I define "major" as widespread 6+ inches of snow accumulation. Crippled travel warranting warnings, rather than advisories. There will be plenty of available cold air. But high pressure over Canada will keep the center of the storm system to our south. And it won't track parallel to the Atlantic seaboard like a classic strong nor'easter. So this storm is not expected to bomb out, or intensify dramatically. And we potentially miss the heaviest precipitation bands too.
4.) "Moderate" snow accumulations and travel headaches seem reasonable. If I had to draw a snow map now, I'd probably include the chance of 3-6" of snow accumulation for much of the state. Certainly enough to reach for shovels and plows. But will temperatures be too warm in the southern half of the state for an "all snow" scenario? Will dry air in the northern half of the state hamper precipitation rates?
5.) Wind, dangerous cold, and coastal flooding issues should be minimal. It will be breezy. And unseasonably cold. And the ocean always gets churned up a little with low pressure in the western Atlantic. But it's not a nor'easter. And not quite a major storm.
The Extended Forecast
Unseasonably cold and somewhat active.
High temperatures all next week will struggle to climb beyond the 30s. Models are showing another storm system passing well south of New Jersey in the Thursday-Friday time frame. At the moment, that looks to be a complete "miss" for us. But if the storm track wiggles north, our weather could turn a bit more interesting.
I suspect I'll have weather blog updates throughout the weekend to discuss early next week's impending storm system. Until then, have a great weekend! Stay warm!
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.