WAYNE, NJ – What a difference a day makes. Or two.  After the mix of sleet, ice, and a lot of rain from the Monday night storm, we got to enjoy a beautiful day on Tuesday to allow a lot of the existing snow to melt away.  This was a wonderful hint of warmer early spring days ahead.  Not so fast!

As noted in Monday’s weather update, another coastal storm is brewing for Thursday into Friday.  Early models indicated a likely repeat of ice, sleet, and rain. Things have radically changed in the past 24 hours.  Whereas the coastal low was expected to hug the shore and move northward in a manner similar to Monday’s storm, indications are strong that instead this will be a far more traditional path that we have seen in many of the storms this month.  The combination of rapidly dropping temperatures over the next 12 hours, coupled with a more intense storm with significantly greater moisture will likely hammer many parts of New Jersey and upstate New York for a solid six to eight hours during the day on Thursday. 

As has been the case with a great many of the February “conveyor belt” string of storms, the further south you are and the closer to the shore you are will likely produce lesser accumulations and an increased chance for mixing with sleet and rain.  The accumulations will increase as you move further north and inland, with an early pounding of snow Thursday morning, then a significant period of icing, then a short period of sleet and rain, before changing back to snow as evening falls and temperatures drop again. 

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How big will this storm be?  There are a few factors still to be watched.  Timing is a major factor, as this time of year the angle of the sun starts to get stronger as we get closer to spring.  As is always the case with coastal storms, exactly where the storm positions off the coast will likely have an influence and will determine how much ocean water gets pulled into the storm, and thus possibly bringing the aforementioned mix and rain further into play along the coast.  In addition, temperatures will increase a bit on Thursday afternoon, which also might play a role. 

With all that in the blender, this will require a great deal of monitoring over the next 12 to 24 hours.  An early conservative projection will be 2-4 inches in southern New Jersey and along the coast up to Ocean County, with a likely change to rain at points late morning Thursday.  North of I-195 to I-78 will likely see 3-6 inches, with accumulations on the lower side nearest the counties adjacent to New York City. Areas to the north and west will likely see 4 to 8 inches, possibly higher in some spots.  These are first glance estimates, and they may be conservative, as this is a storm that will be fast moving, put packing a wallop.

More to follow as things get closer.