EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - At noon on Monday, TAP into East Brunswick/Milltown/Spotswood can now confirm by way of the nine forecasters consulted with or observed that all models are now in unison about the storm of the winter 2016-2017. Using a word that should only be used sparingly, this storm is now setting up to be historic. If nothing changes, this will likely be one of the three most powerful March snowstorms ever to hit this area, rivaling 1993 and believe it or not, 1888.
The storm will start in our area tonight around midnight. It will rapidly intensify through the overnight hours, and will reach blizzard conditions during the morning. The latest precision models for the East Brunswick area (precision models pinpoint snow accumulations to a target area, rather than general) indicate our area will likely receive between 17 and 22 inches of snow. There will be times that the snow will dump down at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Wind gusts will approach 50 miles per hour at its height, even more close to the shore.
It is expected that the storm will leave our area sometime after the dinner hour Tuesday. Expect conditions to be so bad during and immediately after the storm that roads will be virtually impassible.
Could this storm not be as bad as predicted or forecast? The answer is still yes. Nor'easters are by nature somewhat unpredictable when it comes to precise forecasting. Many variables go into how they play out. Factors that could keep accumulations lower would be the storm being slightly more to the east of the models, thereby drawing in greater amounts of ocean water. This would result in more of a wintry mix or rain, as is forecast for parts the south Jersey coast. Another factor could be the amount of moisture in the storm itself.
For you fellow weather geeks, a normal ratio of precipitation to snow is about 10:1 or 12:1. In English, an inch of water (or rain) would equal 10 to 12 inches of snow. This storm's ratio is closer to 15:1. Should this trend lower, accumulations would be somewhat less. Lastly, and probably most importantly, will be the speed this storm moves through the area. At present, this is a fairly fast moving storm. Should the storm's speed slow down (not expected), accumulations will go up. Although the models are very much in unison now, they cannot predict these smaller factors with total certainty.
It is better to prepare for the worst case rather than taking this storm for granted.
IT CANNOT BE STRESSED STRONGLY ENOUGH HOW DANGEROUS THIS STORM WILL BE IF IT LIVES UP TO ITS POTENTIAL! With apologies for being overly dramatic, this is a life threatening storm. This area has not seen blizzard conditions since 2006. The winds will be in many cases worse than the snow itself. Visibility will be measured in feet, not yards. Anyone that is not in an essential role should complete their tasks or errands by evening. Once home, STAY HOME!
East Brunswick, Milltown, Spotswood, and Helmetta have already declared snow emergencies for late tonight and all day tomorrow. Assume it will extend to Wednesday for snow plowing. This means all vehicles MUST be off of township roads to allow for snow plows and emergency vehicles to get through. It also means that the only drivers that should be on the roads are first responders and other emergency personnel. If you are not a policeman, fireman, EMT, hospital employee (doctors, nurses, etc), or public works employee you should not be on the road.
TAP will provide another update early this evening.