A Look at NJ’s 2022 Winter Weather and Snow Expectations

South Jersey saw its first big winter storm of 2022 on Monday, marking the start of what we're told is actually expected to be an average winter in the Garden State.

Sunset Lake in Mountain Lakes, NJ
Sunset Lake in Mountain Lakes, seen here during a recent winter, is a tranquil spot with beautiful scenery, especially in the snowy winter months. Photo by Joe Polillio

South Jersey saw its first big winter storm of 2022 on Monday, marking the start of what we’re told is actually expected to be an average winter in the Garden State.

But in the era of climate change, there’s no such thing as truly average, says NBC 4 New York meteorologist Maria LaRosa, who lives in Bergen County.

On Monday, parts of South Jersey got slammed with accumulation while North Jersey, which typically sees more snow, didn’t. Snow could hit the Garden State again as soon as this Friday.

The state also reckoned with extreme flooding and Hurricane Ida in the fall.

“Climate change puts the thumb on the scale” toward extreme weather events, LaRosa explains. Consider the six tornadoes that touched down on Long Island in November. “That’s off-the-charts weird,” she says. “It was so out of the range of normal.” LaRosa adds, “When people think of the changing climate, they think of warmer temperatures, and in the long term, we will have fewer cold days. But we’ll also see these severe weather scenarios more frequently.”

While it will still be cold this winter, the changing climate may cause temperatures in our state to lean a little above average, says LaRosa, a Ramsey native. That’s the general trend—winters are getting warmer across the country. Last year was the fourth warmest winter in the United States, though in New Jersey, we did get a couple of big storms.

But school children will likely still get their snow days—despite the advent of virtual learning. A new state law stipulates that remote learning only qualifies as an official school day for emergency closures that span more than three consecutive days.

LaRosa says we will likely see a lot more of the white stuff toward the end of February, which is typically the snowiest month of the year. The Farmers’ Almanac also predicts a “winter whopper” at the end of February for parts of the Northeast, but that can be taken with a grain of salt. Over the years, forecasters have been skeptical of its predictions.

Another factor in this winter’s forecast: La Niña, a complex weather pattern that occurs every few years and is expected to be around again for 2022. “La Niña winters here tend to be warmer than average, with near average precipitation,” says LaRosa.

Residents might want to stock up on deicer for freezing rain and black ice. Now, LaRosa says, states are rethinking how to get the message out about dangerous situations. “We have these extremes that are different than what they used to be, and communicating those hazards well is important,” she says.

LaRosa, who moved back to her home state in 2019 after working for the Weather Channel in Atlanta for eight years, says she loves the winter and spends time skiing with her husband and three children. Ski resorts may not see a lot of snow this year, but we might have good snowmaking weather.

Even though she’s a meteorologist for a major network, LaRosa says her mother still calls her to warn her about the weather. “I tell her, ‘Mom, you know what I do, right?’” she tells us with a laugh.

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