Expect to see fewer winter storm watches and warnings issued this winter. The National Weather Service’s office in Mount Holly announced Wednesday that it would be upping the amount of snow that needs to be forecast for southern New Jersey before such watches and warnings are posted.
Ocean County is among the counties affected in the change, along with Atlantic and Cape May counties, plus inland areas of southern New Jersey. Monmouth County is not affected.
Previously, a storm would have to be predicted to dump 4 inches of snow within the following 12 hours in order for a winter storm watch or warning to be issued. But starting Dec. 1, the total has been upped to 5 inches. For a 24 hour storm, the predicted snowfall will rise from 6 inches to 7 inches.
In Monmouth County, the totals will remain the same as they have been in the past – 6 inches for a storm forecast in the following 12 hours and 8 inches in the following 24 hours.
The office’s criteria for issuing Winter Weather Advisories, a lower-level alert that wintry weather is on the way, will not be changed. The advisory will be prompted by a forecast for 2 inches of snow in Ocean County and 3 inches in Monmouth County.
The reason for the change: snowstorms have tended to be more powerful in recent years, when they’ve come. Storms dumping between four and five inches of snow have become less common.
“It reduces the instances of forecasting exact amounts in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area and have it called an advisory in one location and a warning in another,” the office explained through a statement on its social media account.