SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The first in a series of storms marching across the northern United States over the next 10 days will combine with a coastal low over the area tonight and Friday, developing into a powerful nor’easter. This system is expected to bring severe impacts to coastal communities, with the potential for flooding and hurricane force gusts, especially in southern New England. However, rain, snow, and wind impacts will extend well inland, including over the greater New York City area.

As of 12:30 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch and a flood watch for Middlesex County, effective for most of the day Friday. 2 to 3 inches of rainfall is expected across much of North Jersey, with potentially higher amounts, and winds will blow 25 to 40 mph, with gusts to 60 mph. The combination of wet ground and high wind will be capable of downing trees and power lines, and caution is advised if traveling, especially Friday and Saturday morning. Precipitation is expected to begin around 7:00 p.m. Thursday and continue to 7:00 p.m. Friday, with the worst winds occurring from 6 a.m. Friday to 12:00 p.m. Saturday.

There is some uncertainty regarding whether or not cold air might induce snowfall during the latter half of the nor’easter. The latest updates from the major models suggest sleet and snow will be confined to higher elevations north and west of Interstate 287, however, the NAM (North American Mesoscale Forecast System) continues to indicate the possibility of frozen precipitation Friday morning and midday. Any snowfall would likely be less than 3 inches and relatively short-lived.

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For next week, model forecasts indicate a storm will develop over the Ohio Valley, emerging to the Atlantic in the vicinity of the Delmarva. Current trends indicate the potential for snowfall over South Jersey, but accumulations northward cannot be ruled out. Temperatures will be in the low 30s, so any snow will be heavy and wet, potentially damaging limbs and powerlines. Another system may threaten the area next Sunday, although impacts are far less certain.

Readers are strongly encouraged to follow the National Weather Service for the latest updates and advisories.

Daniel J. Ciarletta is a PhD candidate in Environmental Management at Montclair State University, with a research focus on sedimentology and coastal geomorphology.  He has more than a passing interest in the geology, geography, and history of New Jersey, and is also an avid hiker.

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