Official Snowfall Map for Friday night into Saturday morning

When we look at coastal storms, there are many questions that swirl in a meteorologist’s mind.

For the snow potential late Friday into early Saturday, two specific questions play into the snow map — where and how will the pieces in the system interact?

Let us build our weather puzzle. As of Thursday morning, the main system is around the Gulf of Mexico, simmering and gaining strength in warm waters. This was part of the cold front that cooled us down Wednesday morning.

There is a second piece as well. Though it is smaller, it is the X factor. This area of energy is sitting above the Great Lakes, helping to bring more than a foot of lake-effect snow to parts of the Upper Midwest. To see why this is important, we will unfold the rest of the forecast.

Thursday will be a mostly sunny, quiet day. Highs will be a little cooler, in the upper 40s, as the arctic air slowly bleeds into South Jersey. Friday, the first piece of the system stretches from Texas to off the Carolina coast, with the second piece still in the Great Lakes. Then, things will move quickly.

Clouds thicken Friday, and a chilly day is in store. Bring the winter jackets. Highs will only reach the low 40s, as more cold air drains in. The second piece of energy will try to slow down the first system and pull it farther onshore over the weekend. However, it looks to be too little, too late.

The first piece of energy quickly slides up the East Coast, just brushing South Jersey before passing through Saturday. Meanwhile, energy from the Great Lakes swings through Sunday, giving us isolated snow showers.

Here is how I believe it will play out. Expect a 12-hour window for precipitation to fall Friday night into Saturday morning. Light snow, mixing with rain at times, will be the case along the coast. West of the parkway, the coverage of precipitation decreases, but it should be all snow. Once you go west of Hammonton to Vineland and beyond, snow is not a guarantee.

Afternoon holiday parades and festivals look dry but chilly. Sunday then sees the next shot of flakes. It looks to be mostly flurries, though.

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This is my first newspaper but not my first forecast for NJ. I graduated with a B.S. in Meteorology from Rutgers. Two TV internships gave me a taste for the newsroom. Then, after nearly 4 years in private NJ weather, I'm forecasting South Jersey for you.