Milder air will give way to rain, storm threat

A relentlessly active pattern continues as we make our way into the latter half of February. Despite warmer air moving into the area on Thursday and Friday, a significant storm system in the Central United States will move northeastward towards the Great Lakes and drag a cold front through the area later on Friday. The weather on Thursday, in sensible terms, will be much milder than usual with temperatures both aloft and at the surface increasing and plenty of sun expected. We’ll consider it a bit of a consolation prize for the volatility of the pattern over the last several weeks. High temperatures are expected to reach close to 50 degrees in many locations (although cooler near the shore, as usual for this time of year) which will feel almost balmy compared to what we’ve become accustomed to.

Friday, however, looks to be another active weather day in the area with multiple hazards. First and foremost, the Storm Prediction Center has placed parts of Central and Southern NJ in a Slight Risk for severe thunderstorms. As mentioned above, a cold front will move through the area later on Friday. Increased forcing/lift along this front will act as an impressive trigger for storms — and southerly flow ahead of the front will likely provide adequate instability for at least elevated thunderstorms in those areas. A very impressive mid and low level jet just above our heads provides the potential for strong winds to mix down to the surface in any thunderstorms. Although widespread strong/damaging winds aren’t expected, a few severe gusts seem likely but will remain isolated. The threat drops off farther north where instability is less, although rumbles of thunder and heavy rain are still likely along the front.

Hazards overview for Friday, February 21 2014.

Hazards overview for Friday, February 21 2014.

The hazards on Friday are multifaceted, however. Deep snow pack, especially across the interior, will begin to melt with the warmer temperatures on Thursday and may immediately create flooding problems especially if there are drainage backups. This is a good time to clear your gutters, drains and associated apparatuses to avoid interior flooding. The threat for rain on Friday will only compound the threat — as the snowpack will begin to compound and melt further. Poor drainage areas and blocked drains will have significant flooding problems during the heavy rain on Friday.

NAM model showing temperatures near 60 degrees in parts of New Jersey on Friday ahead of a cold front.

NAM model showing temperatures near 60 degrees in parts of New Jersey on Friday ahead of a cold front.

We’re additionally monitoring the potential for dense fog on Friday morning with southerly winds ahead of the incoming front. Although not a “classic” dense fog signal, the potential exists for patches of dense fog especially with the snowcover in place. All in all, an active pattern continues — and it will bring the potential for hazardous weather even despite the warmup and lack of snow falling. Be aware for the potential of fog, flooding, heavy rain, thunder and gusty winds on Friday — but enjoy the warmer weather on Thursday first. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates as well.

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