After a week’s hiatus which saw the bulk of our snowpack melt down with temps rising into the 60s and approaching 70 on Friday, winter has returned to Staten Island, its arrival boldly announced by 24 hours worth of 50 MPH+ wind gusts and temperatures plunging nearly 50 degrees from almost 70 on Friday to near 20 last night.
Granted, the brand of winter we seem headed for now will differ some from what we experienced for much of December and January. Rather than relentless cold and a steady stream of coastal storms providing hit after hit of signficant snow in the Northeast, the pattern now will favor more moderate cold and more variable weather, where significant shots of cold air (10s/20s/30s) will be quickly followed by moderation (into 40s/50s) and vice versa, with storms often tracking more west-east than south-north, putting the NYC area in somewhat of a battleground zone between winter and spring, snow and rain, cold and mild, with precise storm tracks making all the difference.
We will put this pattern to the test on Monday and Tuesday with potentially two opportunities for precipitation, with two systems tracking across the area from west to east, one of which comes a little further north, the other wanting to stay a bit further south. With plenty of solid cold air locked in from NYC points north, snow is definitely in play with both systems. However, with the first system taking a marginal track that may essentially cross NYC/NJ from W to E, enough warmer air may be pulled in to change snow to rain on Monday, particularly from Staten Island on southward, but probably not before picking up a coating to maybe an inch or two of wet snow.
The Tuesday storm presents a potentially more interesting scenario as cold air really pours in in the wake of the first system. There should be enough energy to produce a fairly heavy band of snow somewhere in the region with the second system, but a question is how far south that cold, dry air will supress the snow band and create a pretty sharp north/south cutoff of snow – i.e. South Jersey could see significant snow while NYC sees nothing. It will be a close call, and in this case, Staten Island may fare a better chance at seeing accumulating snow than the rest of NYC, but it’s a situation we’ll have to watch very closely as the fine details will make all the difference.
Looking ahead, there are hints that March will provide plenty of opportunities for cold and snow, so for those who thought winter was over this past week, think again – we may just make a run at that all-time seasonal snowfall record (75″ in 1995-1996) after all – need about 20 more inches. Can we pull it off?