November nor’easter brings season’s first snow Thursday

John Cifelli, Meteorologist | November 14, 2018 | Weather

Thanksgiving falls as early as the calendar allows this year, and it seems Old Man Winter is trying to outdo the feasting holiday. We were just out trick or treating on a warm October evening two weeks ago, and the first accumulating snow of the year will impact the northern half of the state Thursday.

A deep closed mid-level low pressure center is traversing the deep South this afternoon and evening, which will spawn a surface low over southern Georgia later Wednesday night. As the low climbs the eastern seaboard, precipitation will begin after the Thursday morning commute in southern New Jersey, and by early afternoon statewide.

It’s cold outside — 5 to 10 degrees below average. That continues Wednesday and Thursday, giving our approaching storm enough cold air to manifest precipitation as snow or sleet for much of the state as it begins. For southern New Jersey, the transition to rain will occur early enough that roads should not be affected in any significant way. North and west of the Route 202 corridor will likely be another story. Here, precipitation type will likely be driven by precipitation intensity, and a period of moderate snow and sleet will whiten the ground before a more gradual transition to rain. Timing could be an issue as the heaviest precipitation looks to coincide with the Thursday afternoon rush hour.

Rain will be the dominant precipitation type statewide Thursday night, save the northernmost elevated portions of the state, north of Route 80. Here, low level cold yield a transition from snow to sleet and even freezing rain. It is only in this part of the forecast area that there will likely be continued travel delays Friday morning.

Elsewhere rain, and a lot of it in places, will fall through Thursday night. All said and told 1 to 2 inches of liquid equivalent will fall across New Jersey, regardless of what form it falls in.

For Thursday, I am most concerned about the evening rush hour north of Route 78 including western suburbs of New York City and northern suburbs of Philadelphia. Although accumulations may not be terribly significant, the timing, coinciding with the drive home coupled with the fact that many commuters may be caught off-guard due to the surprising early season wintry weather could make for tough sledding.

Expect a coating to two inches of sleet and snow from the Route 1 corridor to Route 78, and 2 to 4 inches north of Route 78, and 4 to 6 inches in the higher elevations north of Route 80, particularly in northern Bergen, Passaic, and Sussex Counties.

We gradually clear out Friday morning, and the weekend looks sunny and seasonal.