Wintry weather makes for a slippery night in northern New Jersey

John Cifelli, Meteorologist | February 5, 2020 | Weather
  • Sleet and freezing rain expected overnight Wednesday into Thursday
  • Areas north and west of Routes 287 and 80 primarily affected
  • Precipitation changes to plain rain by daybreak
  • Steady, occasionally heavy rain will fall statewide Thursday and Thursday night

A brief bout of wintry weather is expected late Wednesday evening into the predawn hours across the northern tier of New Jersey. A developing wave of low pressure is coalescing across the lower Mississippi Valley Wednesday afternoon. Precipitation will spread across the Atlantic coastal plain Wednesday evening and reach New Jersey after the evening commute.

As the low pressure center slides up the coast Thursday, we will remain on the eastern, warm side of the system. The dominant precipitation type will be rain. However, out ahead of the approaching low, cold air near the surface will not be scoured out at first, creating a window of sleet and freezing rain for far northern New Jersey.

Beginning between 9 p.m. and midnight, as the column aloft saturates, cools, and begins to precipitate, sleet will fall in Sussex, western Passaic, and northern Warren and Morris Counties. Any accumulation of sleet will help freezing rain accrete, as the coating of sleet serves as a frozen surface for freezing rain to adhere to. Temperatures will creep above freezing by daybreak, and the morning commute will be either slightly hampered as ice melts, or fine altogether.

Then, it will rain on Thursday — a lot of rain in fact! One to two inches will fall throughout the day and night Thursday as the upper level trough slowly drags across the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic. The trough is deep and well tapped into the Gulf of Mexico, drawing copious moisture up the eastern seaboard. Rain will fall heavy at times, especially Thursday afternoon and evening.

By Friday, the upper-level trough is slowly sliding east off the coast, and colder air will rapidly spill across the state in its wake. Expect a blustery day where we reach the high temperature in the morning on Friday, before colder air on a brisk northwest wind ushers in an evening in the 20s for Friday night. There could be some snowflakes at the end of the precipitation early Friday morning in northern New Jersey, but right now I don’t expect any accumulation.

The weekend looks seasonable and dry, with several weathermakers possible next week. The surface low tracks for next week will be similar to that of the system we will deal with over the next 48 hours, with some front-end frozen precipitation possible, but rain the predominant precipitation type. There are no significant winter weather threats expected for at least the next 10 days. The window for winter weather in a season that has already had little to mention of, is beginning to close.