Mid-March, or dead of winter? Cold and windy Wednesday across NJ
The combination of very cold temperatures, a fierce wind, and scattered snow showers will remind us the start of Spring is still five days away.
Here are your weather headlines for Wednesday, March 15, 2017...
Winter Storm Wrap-up
The "Sort-of-Blizzard of 2017" brought a wide variety of significant weather to New Jersey on Monday night and Tuesday. By the numbers:
--Top Snow Total in NJ: 20.3 inches in Vernon, Sussex County (4 foot drifts reported)
--Top Snow Total Overall: 41.0 inches at Bridgewater, Oneida County, New York
--Top Rain Total in NJ: about 3.5 inches across much of Cape May County
--Top Wind Gust in NJ: 65 mph at Seaside Heights, Ocean County
Now that the storm is over and final snow totals are being compiled, I fully admit that our forecast did not fare well for parts of New Jersey. If you think my snow forecast was a "bust" for your backyard, then you're more than welcome to call it that. Just keep in mind, we did see some very impressive snowfall totals in North Jersey as a result of this nor'easter.
At the request of Bill Spadea, I put together a side-by-side comparison of my forecast (left) to the unofficial observed snowfall (right). For ease of comparison, I've added the same color contours I used in my forecast to the observed snowfall map (manually interpolating as best I could).
Had the nor'easter tracked just 20 to 40 miles further east, our resultant wintry weather would have been dramatically different (and much closer to forecast). So close. Yet, so far.
I admittedly never figured the transition line could drift so far north. However, in my defense, I knew very early on that this storm would feature a sharp cutoff between "lots of snow" and "no snow," with high uncertainty to exactly where it that boom-or-bust rain-snow line would end up. (I thoroughly documented this forecast challenge throughout my weather blog.)
Dead of Winter
Beware the Ides of March! And beware the refreeze!
Thermometers have fallen well below freezing Wednesday morning, into the upper teens to the lower 20s. So, with such frigid temperatures, areas of slush and untreated wet roads may have frozen to solid ice. That could make for a surprisingly slippery walk to the car, with slick spots throughout your morning commute. Of course, there are still numerous unplowed roads that have yet to be cleared, especially in North Jersey.
The big weather story of this Wednesday will be the wind. A brisk westerly wind will be sustained at 15 to 25 mph, with potential gusts as high as 45 mph. The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for most of New Jersey from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
That wind will bring a few additional wintry impacts. First, as you might guess, it's going to be a blustery and frigid day. High temperatures will be limited to mostly between 25 and 30 degrees on Wednesday, about 20 degrees below normal. The wind chill ("feels like" temperature) will be no higher than the teens for the bulk of the day. Brrr!
Second, the areas that saw significant snowfall on Tuesday will be subject to significant blowing and drifting snow throughout the day. In fact, a Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties until 8 p.m. — not because of what's falling from the sky, but because visibility may be reduced by blowing snow.
We also have a good chance for snow showers and squalls through Wednesday afternoon. (It's definitely going to be cold enough to sustain snow statewide.) Up to a half-inch of accumulation will be possible.
Temperatures will generally stay well below normal through at least the end of the workweek.
Wednesday night will be very cold, as low temps once again dip to around 20 degrees.
Thursday will be partly sunny and still a bit windy, with chilly temperatures. Highs are expected to reach the mid 30s.
Friday looks mostly sunny, with high temps improving to around 40 degrees. It will certainly be more comfortable than the previous few days, although Friday will remain well below normal for mid-March.
Our next storm system arrives Friday night to Saturday morning. It will provide a quick hit of snow (north) and rain (south), but exactly where the transition line sets up is uncertain. While I don't expect this system to be a big deal for the Garden State, an inch or two of fresh snow accumulation is certainly possible.
Temperatures should continue to moderate through the weekend, to at least the 40s. We may even touch 50 degrees in South Jersey on Saturday.