Cold Conditions (Feb 19-21)

Written on 02/19/2021
Jonathan Carr

Discussion: It just occurred to me that I haven’t released a fixed weekly product (Mon-Fri Outlook or Weekend Outlook) since late-January. February’s weather, so far, warranted daily wintry storm articles for the incredibly active winter pattern we’ve been in since about Jan 31. It’s nice to get back to this format…for now.

The recent system was a little longer in duration than expected. We had a strong front-end snow thump yesterday, a lull overnight, and then today it has been taking it’s time wrapping up. The back edge is into SWNJ so it won’t be long. It looks like one more significant band to move through the 95 area over the next two hours or so. That might drop an inch or two more along the area heaviest hit yesterday but for the most part just trace-to-light additional accumulations. The story for this weekend? Cold. Our recent system is departing, establishing N/NW flow. High pressure from the W will then drive the remaining Arctic air, that has plagued the N and S central US, down over NJ from tonight (Friday) through Sunday morning. This is decaying Arctic air. Not record breaking. Not what Texas just saw. But still very cold. No precipitation unless some convective action can spawn off the great lakes (flurries/squall for NJ). Otherwise, cold, dry, and NW flow. Monday is the next chance for NNJ (N of I-78/NW of I-287) to see snow (mostly light accumulations, maybe significant in the elevations). The rest of NJ (S of I-78/SE of I-287) will likely be too warm for wintry precipitation. The return flow from the approaching high will raise temps Monday morning ahead of the frontal precipitation for all except NNJ/NWNJ. Tuesday-Thursday then looks rather uneventful and milder than what we have seen lately. Friday is the next statewide synoptic snowstorm signal. Let’s get to Monday and see that system through before committing to serious tracking of the 2/26 snowstorm.

Note: Unless specifically mentioned by location (Example: NNJ elevations, SENJ immediate coast, Interior CNJ/SNJ, etc.) assume the following forecast language is statewide for New Jersey. When I say “from elevations to sea” I mean from NWNJ mountains spreading down to immediate ECNJ/SNJ coastal areas. Directions are shortened (N = North, S = South, W/SW = West/SouthWest, etc.).

Friday (Feb 19 high temperatures have maxed out with most areas reaching the low-to-mid 30s. SENJ maintained above freezing while most of NJ along 295/NJTP and NW stayed just below freezing. A few bands of snow and sleet are still around in the form of either snow, sleet, freezing rain, or plain rain generally from NW to SE. I expect all remaining light precip to clear ENJ soon with little-to-no further accumulation outside of maybe the 95 area over the next two hours or so. Tonight will be the first of two very cold nights as light NW winds persist. NNJ elevations and SNJ Pine Barrens likely down into teens. The rest of NJ somewhere in the 20s.

Saturday (Feb 20) high temperatures should struggle to rise above freezing. Maybe for SENJ. Skies should be mixed with sun and clouds. Can’t rule out some flurries if the lake effect machine is on. Winds should be breezy out of the W/NW (wind chills!). Overnight lows should range from teens to 20s from elevations to sea, maybe even single digits for elevations and Pine Barrens if enough radiational cooling is allowed to happen.

Sunday (Feb 21) high temperatures should rise above freezing for most of the state. A brief thaw but likely still in the mid-to-upper 30s. Skies should be mostly sunny. Winds should be light out of the NW. Overnight lows should range from near-20 to near-30 from elevations to sea.

An early look at next week indicates our next synoptic storm signal on Monday. Only NNJ areas (N of I-78/NW of I-287) look cold enough for wintry accumulations. Everyone S of I-78/SE of I-287 will likely be warm enough for just cold rain. Perhaps the wintry stuff stretches into NENJ slightly more (just E of I-287) but likely not all the way. Extreme NENJ looks too warm. We’ll probably have some snow maps out for Monday’s light event this weekend. Tuesday-Thursday looks rather uneventful with milder highs in the 40s/lows in the 30s type stuff. Then another wintry signal is showing for Friday 2/26. Not currently advertised as a monster but possibly a significant snow for much of the state. The 2/26 signal is the furthest signal I am comfortable tracking. I still cannot get a good read on March yet. We all know March, like November, can go either way in NJ (cold or mild). I should have a better idea of at least the first week of March by next week. Have a great weekend and please be safe! JC

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