SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - A triple threat of winter weather will impact the New Jersey over the next several days, providing the year’s first snowfall and potentially the coldest temperatures of the season. The line-up begins with a fast moving winter storm tonight. This system, the remnants of a low moving east out of the southern plains, is expected to drop 1 to 3 inches of snow over most of New Jersey. Current model guidance is in agreement that the heaviest precipitation is likely to fall sometime around 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Friday morning.
The setup of the first storm will shape the trajectory of the second storm, a nor’easter expected to evolve from a low pressure system moving out of the Midwest. All model guidance agrees that the nor’easter will impact North and Central New Jersey Saturday night through Sunday, but snowfall totals remain highly uncertain. The uncertainty stems from fluctuations in the timing and location of a mix line, which will set up along a southwest to northeast axis roughly paralleling Interstate 95—areas west will receive snow, while areas east receive rain. A track shift of +/- 20 miles will result in extreme differences in snowfall totals across New Jersey.
The passage of the second storm will coincide with a tongue of Arctic air moving down into the Northeast from Canada. The mercury in South Plainfield could fall as low as 3 degrees Fahrenheit by 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. Factoring in wind chill (15 mph wind), temperatures will feel like 20 below zero. The high Monday is not expected to rise above 15, and caution is urged if performing any outdoor activities. During the morning, temperatures will be low enough (and winds high enough) to induce frostbite on exposed skin in under 30 minutes.
In anticipation of winter weather, the National Weather Service (NWS) in New York has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Thursday through Tuesday. Please consult NWS products 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.