A week is all it took for our weather conversation to transition from record warmth to winter storm. Flashback to this time last weekend when highs soared into the upper 60s, making it feel more like May than January. This weekend, it looks and feels how many of us imagine it should with temperatures taking all day to reach the freezing mark, setting the stage for snow that mixes with and changes to ice or rain from afternoon to night. Following a snowy, slushy, and sloppy Saturday, brisk winds may blow a flurry or snow shower the farther north and west you go on Sunday. More noticeably, daytime temperatures feel like they're down in the 20s due to those winds. Cold air is king through mid-week until the 40s return Thursday and Friday.
SATURDAY INTO SATURDAY NIGHT
With the cold air in place to start the weekend, most of us saw snow before midday as a much talked about storm lifted into the Great Lakes. 1" or so was the rule of thumb with this initial batch of snow, and more will move in during the afternoon, before a warm front lifts across area. As the afternoon progresses and some warmer air begins to eat away at the cold, that snow will change to a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and a little freezing rain, and then eventually plain rain. The changeover will occur as it normally does from south to north across the area, which means the farther north you travel and higher up in elevation you go, the more snow you will see, like the Poconos and northwestern New Jersey. The farther south and east you travel and closer to the coast you get, the changeover to rain occurs sooner and limits snow totals.
So how much snow can be expected? Right now, from least to most, it looks like the Delaware Valley and the Interstate 95 corridor, including most of central and southern New Jersey, northern Delaware, and far southeastern Pennsylvania will only see a C-2” of snow, which will likely get washed away by a quicker changeover to rain. Farther northwest towards the Interstate 78 corridor, including the Lehigh Valley, Berks County, and most of northwestern New Jersey, 2-4” of snow is currently forecast, with a later changeover to mix and then rain before ending Saturday evening. As usual, the higher elevations will get the most, with the Poconos (Carbon and Monroe Counties, I-80 corridor) seeing more than 4” of snow, with 4-8” the general expectation with most places in the lower half of that range. However, the normally snowier highest elevations could see some 6” or 7” amounts in a few spots. In the mountains, the snow will end as a light wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain, and rain Saturday evening, but little plain rain is expected. The storm will only last 6 to 10 hours in any location, with the bulk of the snow, mix, and rain falling from midday through mid-evening Saturday.
The second half of the weekend will be much quieter, but also quite windy once again as northwest winds usher in some cold air reinforcements behind our departing storm. Expect a partly sunny and brisk day with afternoon temperatures in the middle 30s, but wind chills well below freezing thanks to some gusty northwest breezes. Outside of a flurry or snow shower in the higher elevations, the day looks to be a mostly dry one. There may be a few heavier snow showers or squalls by evening, but the rest of the night is just plain cold with temperatures tumbling through the teens.
EARLY NEXT WEEK
The cold will be the big story Monday and Tuesday as highs struggle to hit the freezing mark, likely staying in the 20s for the majority of the day. Expect partly sunny skies with nothing more than a few flurries, but brisk winds will keep wind chills in the single digits and teens much of the time, especially for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In fact, overnight lows may drop as low as 10 degrees by Tuesday night. The cold will slowly ease back towards seasonable levels by the middle and end of the week.