Dynamic storm system will highlight mid-week weather

NAM model showing temperatures rising into the 50's throughout the area Wednesday afternoon, and even 60's in parts of New Jersey.

NAM model showing temperatures rising into the 50’s throughout the area Wednesday afternoon, and even 60’s in parts of New Jersey away from the shores.

A strong storm system over the Central United States will shift northeastward beginning Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday. As it does so, a changing airmass will bring a roller-coaster of weather to a climax in our area. The bone-chilling cold of the past week will become a memory as winds turn southerly on Tuesday evening and temperatures warm up … quite dramatically, in fact. Highs over much of the area away from the coast should reach into the middle 50’s if not higher on Wednesday ahead of an approaching cold front.

That cold front will become a story as well, with the potential for a period of very heavy rain, potentially a rumble of thunder, and strong gusty winds. With the front poised to move through the area late Wednesday evening into the overnight hours of early Thursday, the period of heaviest rain looks to come after rush hour on Wednesday. But showers and clouds should be around for much of the day prior to that, despite the warm temperatures. The Storm Prediction Center suggests the potential for thunder, and an isolated threat of strong winds over Southwestern New Jersey. The greater severe weather threat will remain well to our south and west.

Gusty winds and heavy rain should taper slowly from west to east by early Thursday, with strong westerly winds building on Thursday behind the front. Another cool down will then grip the area by the end of the week, with colder temperatures and highs only into the 40’s..and the strong westerly winds continuing into Friday.

Wintry mix returns into Wednesday morning

NAM Model forecast for early Wednesday morning January 16th. Notice the snow across the northern suburbs and rain to the south, including sleet/freezing rain in many areas between.

NAM Model forecast for early Wednesday morning January 16th. Notice the snow across the northern suburbs and rain to the south, including sleet/freezing rain in many areas between.

A warmer pattern, which has settled into the area essentially from late December through the middle of January, will finally break beginning this week. It’s entrance, fittingly, will be marked by a light to moderate precipitation event which could feature snow sleet and freezing rain, especially across the interior. An elongated disturbance moving through the Northeast United States on Tuesday evening through Wednesday will touch off the development of a low pressure system along a frontal boundary to our east (yes, the one that passed on Monday), which will aid in the development of precipitation which will be especially steady in our area from Tuesday Night through Wednesday Morning. Temperatures will be warming in the low levels of the atmosphere, but only in an area just above the surface. So, while temperatures near the surface will hover in the low to mid 30’s in many areas, snow will flip to sleet, freezing rain, and rain near the coast fairly quickly. Farther inland, a more prolonged period of snow, sleet, and freezing rain is likely. A few inches of snow, plus the possibility of some ice accretion, does exist across Northern New Jersey, Southeast New York, and Connecticut.

Timing: Light precipitation is expected to begin overnight Tuesday, likely around midnight, as snow/sleet in many areas. A quick transition to liquid precipitation is expected across Southern New Jersey and the coastal areas of New Jersey and Long Island. Across the suburbs, and for a while in New York City, sleet/freezing rain may occur…likely through around 3 to 5 am. After this point, a transition to rain is expected across most of Central New Jersey, New York City, and the immediate suburbs. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain will remain possible through the rush hour Wednesday morning across the Northern New Jersey suburbs, Southeast New York, and Connecticut before precipitation becomes much more spotty by later Wednesday morning and early afternoon.

Accumulations: No accumulations are expected in Central or Southern New Jersey, the New Jersey shore, or Long Island. Up to an inch of snow is possible from I-78 in New Jersey northward, this includes New York City although accumulations in the city are expected to be minimal. Across Northern NJ, Southeast NY and CT…1 to 2 inches of snow and a bit of ice/sleet is likely.

Hazards/Impacts: The greatest impact will be travel difficulties during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, which could be slippery and icy especially across the Northern suburbs of NJ, NY and CT. In the city, slippery conditions are also possible but less likely. Only wet roads are expected farther south across New Jersey and along the coasts.

Comet ison could light up the sky in late 2013

Comet ISON is expected, by many scientists, to pass near earth from October 2013 through January 2014. It could be brighter than a full moon in the night sky.

Comet ISON is expected, by many scientists, to pass near earth from October 2013 through January 2014. It could be brighter than a full moon in the night sky.

Que the dramatic post title. Really we’re sorry, but it’s true. Big time astronomical events like solar eclipses. planetary alignments, and comets only come around every once and a while. I’m willing to bet you remember some of the more memorable ones (Haley’s comet, anyone?) and the experience you had checking it out. Space, astronomy for that matter, is mesmerizing in many ways. How quickly you can go from feeling big to small, with just one single thought about the relative size of earth in our solar system, and the relative size of our solar system in space. Recently, big time astronomical events have generally avoided the New York City Area (no solar eclipses in several years). That being said, if all goes well, 2013 could bring an astronomical event of a lifetime that will be remembered forever.

The Oort cloud is a  cluster of frozen rock and ice that sits in space some 50,000 times farther away from the sun than earth does. What does that have to do with us, you ask? It holds the secret to our potential 2013 event. Every once and a while, a frozen rock will be “bumped” from the suns gravitational pull, out of the Oort cloud. It will then begin a long journey of orbit around the sun, just like any other rock or planet.

That’s where Comet ISON comes in. Last September 21st, two Russian astronomers spotted what looked like a comet in their 16-inch telescope. The name, ISON, comes from the name of the network which provided the telescope which enabled the astronomers to view the comet, the International Scientific Optical Network (or ISON). After some further work and analysis, the researchers were able to confirm that comet ISON would, in fact, pass fairly close to Earth in 2013. It’s path, remarkably, is similar to a comet which passed near Earth in 1680. Records from that comets passage reported a brightness so dramatic that its tail could be seen in broad daylight.

Scientists suggest that as Comet ISON approaches, and the sun vaporizes the ices in its body, a spectacular sight — including a bright burning comet and tail — will be visible from Earth’s night sky with the naked eye. Even more exciting is that the event could last from October 2013 through January 2014. “Comet ISON could be the brightest comet seen in many generations – brighter even than the full moon,” wrote British astronomer David Whitehouse in The Independent.

It’s not all locked in place, though. Comet ISON will be vaporized as it approaches the sun, that much we know. If it breaks apart as it does so, the show will be far less dramatic than expected. I think its safe to say that we will all be watching carefully. The last comet to pass brightly near Earth was Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997.