Hours before a major winter storm is expected to hit New Jersey, forecasters lowered predictions for how much snow could blanket portions of the state Wednesday. But some areas still could get quite a wallop.
Some parts of northern New Jersey that had been projected to get 18 to 24 inches are now forecast to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow, according to a National Weather Service storm briefing released at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Areas near, and north and west of the I-95 corridor are expected to see the heaviest snow, according to forecasts. Those portions of the state could see still 12 to 18 inches of snow, forecasters said.
“Snowfall rates could reach 1 to 2 inches per hour for a time late day Wednesday into Wednesday night, causing significantly reduced visibility and potentially crippling travel impacts in places,” a weather service briefing said.
Meanwhile, South Jersey could see little to no snow accumulation. Forecasters say the center of the storm is likely to move closer to the Jersey Shore than they previously had expected, so more warm air from the ocean will be pushed in. That will bring more rain than snow to much of southern New Jersey and coastal areas.
Still, the region is expected to see snow and strong winds. And forecasters say a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain is possible — especially between Interstate 78 and the I-95/295 corridors — boosting the risk of slick roads.
Central Jersey could see snow fall by around 4 to 5 p.m. and around 6 to 7 p.m. further north.
“As you get toward New Brunswick, we’re looking at a start time between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. And then, if you get towards the New York (State) border it maybe starts an hour or two after that, so it’s generally mid-to late afternoon for a good chunk of the state,” Sean Rowland, of WeatherWorks, a private forecasting company based in Warren County, told NJ Advance Media Tuesday morning. South Jersey could see winter weather beginning around 11 a.m.
The state Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued a “Winter Weather Congestion Alert” based on the impending storm and urged motorists to avoid unnecessary travel.
“In order for NJDOT and our regional and local transportation partners to safely and efficiently clear highways of snow, motorists are encouraged to Clear the Roads so We Can Clear the Roads,” the department said in a statement.
Forecasts also call for some flooding and wind. Coastal areas could see gusts possibly reaching 45 to 60 mph.
“This could result in power outages. Inland, gusts could reach as high as 30 to 40 mph, exacerbating visibility restrictions in snow,” the agency’s briefing said.
Forecasters said moderate coastal flooding is also possible Wednesday evening and Thursday morning during high tide along the Atlantic Ocean and lower Delaware Bay.
As of late Tuesday night, the following warnings were issued by the National Weather Service:
- A winter storm warning goes into effect at noon Wednesday in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Warren and western Monmouth. It will be active until 10 a.m. Thursday.
- A winter storm warning will be in effect in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union from 2 p.m. Wednesday through 1 p.m. Thursday.
- A high wind warning will be effective in coastal Atlantic and Cape May counties from 4 p.m. Wednesday through 2 a.m. Thursday, with gusts as strong as 60 mph possible.
- A high wind warning will be effective in eastern Monmouth County and coastal sections of Ocean County from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 9 a.m. Thursday, with 60 mph gusts possible.
- A wind advisory will be effective in Atlantic, Cumberland and southeastern Burlington from 4 p.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. Thursday, with gusts as high as 55 mph possible.
- A coastal flood warning will be in effect in Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties at various times late Wednesday and early Thursday.
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NJ Advance Media staff writers Jeff Goldman, Katie Kausch and Len Melisurgo contributed to this report.
Noah Cohen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.