Heavy rain. Lightning and thunder. Strong winds. It's going to be a messy weather day here in the Garden State. And I fear the worst weather will make for a sloppy evening commute. Here's the latest rundown of our impending coastal storm.

Setup

A powerful coastal storm will continue to strengthen as it passes by the Jersey Shore on Wednesday. Combined with an approaching cold front, we'll see an extended period of soaking rain and bursts of fierce winds. It's important to note that we're not facing the brunt of this storm, with the heaviest rain and wind remaining off-shore. New England is really going to get walloped.

While it will lead to travel headaches, Wednesday's thorough drenching is very much needed. About 81% of New Jersey remains in the "Abnormally Dry" category, with over 7% of the state classified in "Moderate Drought".

First Raindrops

We're starting off Wednesday dry, with clouds rolling in and a light breeze. It's actually much colder than I expected, as clouds were slow to arrive. Interior NJ has fallen well into the 40s, with 50s in cities and along the coast.

Rain will push in from the southwest around 10 a.m. It will likely be raining just about everywhere in the state by 2 p.m. Therefore, I'm still comfortable saying our rain will start around midday or lunchtime.

Heaviest, Steadiest Rain

Some models hint at a band of moderate to heavy rain moving from southwest to northeast across New Jersey through the middle of the afternoon (starting around 2 p.m.) — that timing is a bit earlier than we had discussed earlier.

I'm still thinking that the heaviest rain is likely through the late afternoon and evening hours (4 p.m. to 10 p.m.) Thunder and lightning is a good possibility. Those embedded thunderstorms may spit out wind gusts up to about 40 mph.

Flooding Potential

We're facing rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches, with even higher localized amounts possible. That alone is enough to cause ponding and flash flooding issues.

Of course, the combination of wind and rain will also knock a lot of leaves down from the trees. Not only will those wet leaves make road surfaces slippery, but leaf debris may clog storm drains and cause water backups during heavy downpours.

A Flash Flood Watch has been issued from 4 p.m. Wednesday to 4 a.m. Thursday for five counties in northeastern New Jersey: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union. That corner is the state is the most likely location to see over 2 inches of rain.

More Wind

After the storm wraps up, a cold front will flip our wind direction from Southeast to West-Northwest. (Remember: we report the direction wind is blowing from.)

Winds will remain gusty overnight and for much of the day Thursday. Gusts of 40 mph (inland) and even 50 mph (coast) are possible.

A Wind Advisory has been issued from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday for part of six counties along the Jersey Shore: Atlantic, southeastern Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth, and Ocean.

Coastal Flooding

Not an issue this time around, I'm happy to say. Even though winds will be southeasterly during the storm — an on-shore flow — they're just not going to carry a huge mass of ocean water toward the Jersey Shore.

Having said that, some tide gauges are forecast to flirt with minor flood stage during both high tide cycles on Wednesday, specifically at Manasquan and Barnegat. Highly vulnerable areas next to tidal waterways may see some puddles. But again, it's not going to be a widespread and precarious situation like last week's coastal storm.

After the Storm

As this nor'easter pulls away from New Jersey late Wednesday night, rain will come to an end and skies will start to clear. Overnight lows will dip to around 50 degrees. Chilly.

Thursday will feature breaks of sun and a continuing brisk wind. It's going to feel quite blustery, with high temps only in the upper 50s to around 60 degrees.

Our weather calms down on Friday — a mostly sunny, breezy, and dry day. Highs will remain just below normal in the lower 60s.

The weekend forecast looks great, with bright sunshine and dry weather. We'll see highs climb from the mid 60s on Saturday to near 70 degrees on Sunday.

Our next storm system arrives late Monday into Tuesday. It will play out very similarly to our imminent coastal storm — an extended period of soaking rain, accompanied by some rain, and followed by a cooldown.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.