Happy Tuesday 02/22/22! How fitting that we have two storm systems in sight this week. The first will bring wet and windy weather to New Jersey on Tuesday. But at least it’s warm enough that we don’t have to worry about winter weather. For now.
The next system will arrive from Thursday to Friday. With the cold air returning by then, there will be a winter component to this system. But don’t let anyone call it a “snow” storm. It looks like a freezing mix of sleet and freezing rain will be the dominant precipitation type, with a period of pure rain across South Jersey. That said, there could still be some messy buildups and shifts – the Friday morning commute will be the one to watch.
After a beautiful and mild day on Monday, we leave on Tuesday calm and cool. Some moisture has invaded the south and the Jersey Shore, keeping morning temperatures from falling below the 40s. Farther northwest it is drier and colder, only in the 20s in northern Jersey. So you might have to poke your head out to decide if you’ll need the heavy winter coat on Tuesday morning. You won’t need it later.
The first part of Tuesday will be rather cloudy and windy. There might be uneven splashes and fog between breakfast and lunch. High temperatures will reach the mid-50s (north) to mid-60s (south). It’s 10 to 20 degrees above normal for late February.
Eventually everyone in New Jersey will get wet. A steady stream of rain will begin to push eastward into New Jersey around mid-afternoon (say 2 p.m.). Then, scattered rain will fall over New Jersey through Tuesday evening.
There’s no worry here for winter weather – temps will be in the high 50s for the duration. I’m also not concerned about flooding or bad weather (convective wind, hail or tornadoes).
However, you will notice a yellow “alert” icon on the 5-day forecast. It’s for the wind. Just like over the weekend, New Jersey will find itself on the edge of a low-level jet streak — strong winds about a mile above. Heavy rain can force these winds closer to the surface. So I think it’s reasonable to expect gusts in the 30-40+ mph range. The timing of the strongest gusts would be centered around dinner hours on Tuesday evening.
The day starts wet. Persistent overnight rain showers are expected to end between approximately 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. Then we will enjoy a few hours of pleasant and very warm weather before the temperatures drop again.
Wednesday’s high temperatures will reach the mid-upper 60s. 70 degrees is a possibility for the South Jersey interior, for only the second time this year.
Thermometers could start dropping in North Jersey around mid-afternoon. But for most of the state, the arrival of colder air will wait until sunset or later Wednesday evening.
Overnight low temperatures will drop below freezing by Thursday morning.
Well, over 60 years. Thursday’s highs will only reach the mid-upper 30s. And with another area of low pressure targeting New Jersey, some degree of wintry weather still looks likely.
However, it is becoming clear that this will not be an “all snow” or even “mostly snow” situation. Lots of humidity. Temperatures will be quite cold on the surface. But with the layers warming just above ground level, sleet and freezing rain are expected to be the predominant precipitation types.
I call this an “icy mix” and it can obviously be a very slippery situation.
At this point, it looks like a light mix of snow and ice will be possible from a first wave of energy on Thursday. Nothing crazy yet.
Then, the “main event” runs from Thursday night to early Friday. Things will likely start with snow in northern New Jersey and this icy mix to the south. As temperatures warm up in the middle layers, we will likely see an overnight transition from “snow and mix” to “mix and rain”. (For the southern half of the state, it will likely change to rain by dawn on Friday.)
It is still too early to talk about snow and ice accumulation figures. This is a complicated situation, and the type of precipitation will be directly related to the precise path of the storm and the temperatures. Needless to say, I remain very concerned about a period of dangerous travel conditions. Especially in the northern half of the state. Especially for Friday morning rush hour.
Hopefully we can start talking about more details within 24 hours. Let’s get through Tuesday night’s rainmaker first, and take things one storm at a time.
The long term forecast
The last days of February are also expected to be abnormally cold for the season. Saturday will be the bottom of the barrel for our next cold snap, with temperatures potentially stuck below normal all day. And then a weak coastal storm system could cut through the south coast of NJ on Sunday with light snow/rain. Our next opportunity for a larger storm would not present itself until the second half of next week.