A powerful punch of winter weather Monday

John Cifelli, Meteorologist | December 2, 2019 | Weather
  • Snow beginning across northern New Jersey for the morning commute
  • Snow spreads south and east through the morning, lasting through the evening commute
  • Over 6 inches of new accumulation expected Monday

A dangerous winter weather setup is unfolding across New Jersey. A surface low stalled just east off of the New Jersey coastline will work in tandem with upper-level features to spread significant snowfall across the state Monday. As the upper-level features swing through the northern Mid-Atlantic Monday morning, they’ll access the copious moisture available from the stalled surface low. Precipitation will quickly spread across northern and central New Jersey. Precipitation intensity coupled with colder air moving in aloft will change any rain at the onset to snow by midday, and snow will continue through the afternoon into the early evening. Gradually, low pressure at the surface and aloft slide east to allow for drier air and clearing skies by Tuesday.

Precipitation is blossoming Monday morning across the middle of the state. It’s a dramatic sight on radar, with snow and rain showers seeming to burst out of thin air, unlike when you can see it coming with the approach of a mature storm system. The storm Monday is developing right over the state, so if you’re checking the radar you won’t see it coming. As we move through the morning, snow will rapidly break out west to east. It’s going to fall heavy at times in places, in a somewhat banded nature. As usual with banded snowfall, some in New Jersey will see enhanced snowfall totals, while locations immediately adjacent will be reduced. The vertical ascent needed to create the accumulation surplus in one location results in sinking air that cuts totals in the town next door.

Where exactly these bands of heaviest snow setup won’t be known until the snow is falling. The axis of heaviest snow could be anywhere from the Delaware River to the New York City metropolitan area, and as far south as Burlington or Monmouth County. Right now, I am dropping the pinpoint on interior northern New Jersey. New Jersey isn’t a very big state and forecasting these mesoscale snow features is as specific a task as pinpointing exactly where a summertime thunderstorm will occur. I’m very concerned that we could see serious travel problems Monday afternoon, with the period of heaviest snowfall coinciding with the afternoon commute. You won’t need to be in the axis of heaviest snow to be in a bad situation if a few inches of snow falls at an intense rate with crowded roadways. If you can be off the roads this afternoon in the northern half of the state, you’ll be glad for it.

Snow winds down gradually through the evening. By Tuesday morning, expect 5 to 10 inches north of Route 78, and 2 to 5 inches between 195 and 78. Further south accumulations will rapidly drop off, with no accumulations or travel impacts in far southern NJ. The rest of the week is seasonably cold with fair weather conditions expected.