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A Super-Soaker Saturday Storm? Some Potential For Wintry Weather Too!

We don't need anymore rain. It seems like we are up to our gills in soggy conditions lately. We ended Fall (meteorological Fall) well above in that department and it looks like the trend continues into Winter. Sigh. But we've got a little bit different of a pattern this time which could be favorable to those of us who love Winter weather.


Now, let me be as clear as I perfectly can here... I am NOT saying we are getting a snow storm. I believe it is more likely to be mainly or all rain BUT based on the newest guidance out I can't take some wintry mixing or snow off the table yet. I think it would be irresponsible to do. Not trying to give anyone false hope though. Let's breakdown what's going on.


You often hear me talk about the trends. I'll say "the trend is our friend". I'm referring to the trends that develop in model guidance. Most models are run 4x a day. Some more, some less, but the average is 4x. With each run, we get new insight. We wait and see if what they were projecting in the prior run crosses over or changes in the new run. Once we get 3 in a row we can see a clear trend develop.


Something is currently happening that gives me a little hope. Here is the EURO run from yesterday afternoon:

That's A LOT of rain over us early Saturday morning. Probably 1 to in some cases up to 3" before all is said and done with. Let's take a moment and dissect this for a moment so you have a better understanding of what you're looking at. See the well defined black lines going around the circle over NJ? Those are isobars. They are lines of equal pressure. The closer they are together, the windier it is. In the middle of all those lines is the actual center of the storm (low pressure)... that makes sense, right?


The dark blue line going through the Harrisburg area is the rain/snow line or where temperatures are at or below freezing. Everyone to the east or south of that line sees rain, everyone west or north of the line sees snow.


Now look closely at this afternoon's run of the same model:

Some changes. Now the center of the storm is positioned about 50 miles off-shore instead of ontop of us. That doesn't change the fact that we are still likely going to see a lot of rain, but it does give the storm an opportunity to shift winds out of the northwest and have colder air work in for potential wintry mixing or snow on the back end. I caution you though... back end snow is hard to get in NJ... but it's a possibility.


Let's look into things a little closer now. I want to take you up about 5,000 feet into the atmosphere. In the Winter we look at temperatures at the 850 milibar layer of the atmosphere for clues. At 1 in the afternoon, this is what those temps look like:

If you're looking for snow, these numbers NEED to be below freezing, no ifs ands or buts about it. -4 to -5 is generally a good spot to be in... now the question is how much precip is lingering around and is it still falling fast enough to switch to a mix or some snow?

Doesn't look very heavy to me, but that can change. Generally the heavier it is, the more likely for a change because the cold air can be brought to the surface through a process called dynamic cooling.


Winds look to be in favor of changing precip... they'll shift out of the northwest, a much cooler direction... but again it will come down to how much precip is leftover really.

Winds on Saturday will start out of the southeast / east then transition to northeast, north and northwest. Gusts 40-50 possible along the coast.


So the way I see it we've got two potential scenarios:


  1. Brings the low right overhead. Rain for all of NJ with the snow way back to the north and west.


2. Low goes about 50-100 miles off shore and brings in colder air and a chance of some mixing / snow at the end.

Again, I believe, at least at this exact moment in time, rain is more likely than snow. But it's our first more complicated scenario of the season, so need to stand guard. By tomorrow morning I'll have a better idea and by tomorrow night we will be able to start finalization on the forecast.


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