SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY – Mother nature has decided she wishes to celebrate the end of Thanksgiving weekend with all of New Jersey, by delivering the first Nor’easter of winter.  It appears that those who had plans on departing their various locales on the busiest travel day of the year will need to think twice before leaving.  A coupling of low-pressure systems will cause havoc in the central New Jersey and northern New Jersey areas on Sunday and Monday. If anybody needs to complete some of their holiday shopping, Small Business Saturday is the day to do it.

This storm is a three-phase process, starting on Sunday morning.  What is seen on Sunday and even Monday is very much dependent on timing and on location.

Phase One: During this first stage, the first low pressure system, which has initially brought bad weather throughout California and into the southern desert areas will make its move north and east towards the Great Lakes.  The combination of the front pushing warm air towards the coast, along with the cold air over the lakes, will cause a combination of snow and sleet to reach New Jersey.  Those TAP towns that are along the New Jersey Turnpike, as well as North and West of the Turnpike will see the best chance for a snow/sleet icy mix on Sunday morning.  Those nearer the coast (coastal Monmouth, Middlesex, and Hudson counties, including Newark) as well as those areas south of I-195 will likely see mostly rain in this first phase.  Models are coming into conformity to indicate that the areas near the Turnpike will likely see a shift late Sunday morning and early Sunday afternoon to a treacherous, icy mix.  These areas potentially could see an inch of snow before changing to half an inch of ice.  By the time this low reaches the New Jersey coast on late Sunday afternoon, most areas will change to rain. Those in areas north or west of the Turnpike have the potential of seeing this be snow, then freezing rain, and never changing over to all rain.  What seems certain at this point is that things will be a mess for most areas north of I-195 throughout Sunday.

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Phase Two: Based on the latest models, it appears that by Sunday evening, all areas in New Jersey south of I-195 will be seeing an all rain event, while North of this marker will see a combination of freezing rain and rain throughout the evening.  Then the fun starts.  A second low will drift from the Southeast to join up with the first low described in phase one.  The two systems will merge to form the first significant winter storm of our season, forming off the New Jersey coast.  This second phase will start with warmer air, which is why the shift to rain in most areas. Fortunately for the Jersey coast, flooding will be minimal at most, as the storm will be far enough north to avoid pulling major tidal drifts into the storm. This process will occur into middle Sunday evening, when there might even be a cutoff to all precipitation for a few hours on Sunday night.  This will set the stage for the main event.

Phase Three: The Nor’easter will gradually intensify and begin to move to the northeast. Potentially drifting back closer to the Central NJ and Northern NJ coast. The second low that developed is at a higher altitude than the initial system, which will bring much colder air and precipitation into the merging storms. It is likely to start as snow during early Monday morning. The strength of this storm will act like a conveyor belt of wind and snow until it leaves the area late on Monday.

We are not yet ready to forecast accumulation amounts.  There are still far too many variables that are uncertain.  The location of the where the combined low sets up off the coast, and the speed of the storm moving up the coast will be a major driving factor.  As was the case with many of our storms last winter, what looked bleak could turn out to be just a small slap. The rain/snow line is still an unknown.

This much seems certain for the TAP areas:

South of I-195 and the extreme coastal areas:  A rain event, then wind increases and rain intensifies through Monday.

Between I-195 and I-80: Snow, sleet, and freezing rain to start on Sunday morning and afternoon, then rain on Sunday night, then the potential for significant snow on Monday morning and Afternoon.

North of I-80 and areas north and west (Sparta): Snow, then freezing rain, the much more snow is possible depending on storm location. It is likely this region will see at least 1 to 3 inches of snow, and possibly much more.

Travel on Sunday and Monday will be very difficult in most TAPInto areas,

More updates will be provided Saturday night and Sunday.  Your local TAPInto sites will provide updates as to school and business closings.