Freezing rain that could lead to “significant icing,” particularly in northwestern New Jersey, could cause hazardous conditions on roads and sidewalks during the Tuesday morning commute with the potential for power outages as well from falling tree branches weighed down by ice, the National Weather Service says.

Most of the problems are in northern New Jersey, especially northwest of the New Jersey Turnpike, the weather service said in a Tuesday morning update on the storm.

Forecasters say a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice could accumulate in in Sussex, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon and western Passaic county before freezing rain starts transitioning to rain later this morning into the afternoon.

Snow, sleet and freezing rain graphic. N.J. weather

Snow, sleet and freezing rain explained.

When rain falls on surfaces where temperatures are at or below 32 degrees, those droplets quickly turn into ice, creating what’s commonly known as freezing rain.

The storm has led school districts in seven counties to call for delayed openings or school closings on Tuesday. Some districts that initially called for delays on Monday night switched to closings early Tuesday after the forecast for significant icing worsened overnight.

The precipitation is falling as rain in most of the state as temperatures in those areas remain above the freezing mark.

N.J. weather: Ice, freezing rain Tuesday with snow squalls Wednesday

Here’s the forecast for Tuesday:

  • Sussex and Warren counties – a winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. where freezing rain could, at times, mix with sleet. Additional ice accumulations of up to four-tenths of an inch are possible.
  • Morris County – a winter weather advisory is in effect until 1 p.m. where freezing rain and occasional sleet transitions to rain this afternoon.
  • Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex and Mercer counties – a winter weather advisory is set to expire at 10 a.m. Freezing rain and plain rain will continue early this morning before gradually changing to all rain from south to north through from mid-to-late morning.
  • western Passaic and western Bergen counties – mixed precipitation with more icing is expected as a winter weather advisory expires at 6 p.m.
  • Essex, Union, and eastern Bergen counties – mixed precipitation and a light glaze of glaze is expected before the winter weather advisory expires at 10 a.m.
N.J. weather: Ice, freezing rain Tuesday with snow squalls Wednesday
N.J. weather: Ice, freezing rain Tuesday with snow squalls Wednesday

There are also flooding concerns in the following towns in Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties due to heavy rain: Toms River, Long Branch, Asbury Park, Sandy Hook, Lakewood, Middletown, Old Bridge, Jackson, Howell, East Brunswick, South Brunswick, Marlboro, Manalapan, Tinton Falls, Holmdel, Princeton, Red Bank, Beachwood, Keansburg and Matawan.

Rain will taper off by this evening before temperatures drop into the 20s later Tuesday into Wednesday when winds pick up considerably. Gusts of 35 to 40 mph on Wednesday could knock out power where ice has accumulated on power lines and cause minor tree damage, the weather service said.

N.J. weather: Ice, freezing rain Tuesday with snow squalls Wednesday

Brief snow squalls that would limit visibility are also a concern in areas north of Interstate 80 on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Otherwise, Wednesday should be mainly dry with temps in the 30s. It’ll get very chilly Wednesday night with temperatures in the teens and wind chill values in the single digits.

Conditions stay frigid on Thursday with temperatures not getting out of the 20s under sunny skies.

CURRENT NEW JERSEY RADAR

7-DAY WEATHER FORECAST

Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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