NJ heat wave day 3 of 5: Thursday, the steamiest day of the week
The Bottom Line
Heat warnings and advisories continue for almost all of New Jersey Thursday. We face three more days with high temperatures of 90+ degrees. The next two days are going to be especially tropical, as the heat index potentially pushes past 105. We're talking about thunderstorms too. More importantly, the big cooldown arrives this weekend.
Same story, different day. It will be hazy, hot, and humid - one of the hottest days of 2021. Morning temperatures are in the lower to mid 70s. Afternoon highs will push into the mid 90s. Add in the humidity, and you get a heat index above 105 for most of the state. Firmly in the danger zone.
My forecast high for Newark Thursday is 98 degrees. That would tie the previous record high temperature of 98 set in 1944. The records for Trenton and Atlantic City are both 96 - it will be close.
An Excessive Heat Warning continues for most of New Jersey Thursday. (And for most of the warning area, it has been extended through 8 p.m. Friday, as expected.) A less-severe Heat Advisory continues for far northern, far southern, and coastal New Jersey.
Barrier islands will be the only spot in the state with a chance of not hitting 90+. It's still going to be uncomfortably hot and humid, of course.
Weatherwise, we are starting the day with an isolated batch of rain over northeastern New Jersey (as of 5:30 a.m.) Skies should be mostly sunny throughout Thursday, with some clouds building late-day.
And then, just like Wednesday evening, we'll have to watch the western sky Thursday evening for thunderstorms. Just like Wednesday, the best chance for storms will be to the north and west. Those storms will be capable of producing some gusty wind, frequent lightning, and very heavy rain. Models once again show thunderstorms will probably fizzle out before reaching the coast.
The rest of the overnight looks really steamy. Areas that don't see rain will struggle to fall below 75 degrees. It could be one of the warmest nights of the summer.
One more ferociously, dangerously hot day. It still looks like dew points slip downward ever so slightly. So I'll put the heat index at 100+, instead of 105+. (Woohoo.) High temperatures will once again hit the lower to mid 90s.
In case you're keeping score, Friday will be NJ's 14th 95+ degree day of 2021. That is a lot, but nowhere near a record. 1993 had 25 such hot days.
The day looks to feature hazy sunshine. And, with a later arrival time of our inevitable cold front, I've opted for a dry, storm-free forecast for Friday for now.
The big transition day. A slow-moving cold front will eventually drive in the cooler, drier air that will put an end to our latest wave of extreme heat.
But that will not be an immediate change. Saturday will be a humid and very warm day. I fully expect parts of NJ to still hit 90 degrees. Not everywhere. And the heat index will only reach the 90s - that's why the heat warnings and advisories will not last through the weekend.
The timing of that front will dictate our rain chances for Saturday. I think if the frontal boundary pushes into NJ in the early morning hours (per the GFS model), it will be a mainly dry event. However, if it passes later, say midday into the afternoon, we will likely face a round of scattered showers and thunderstorms during the day Saturday (as the Euro model suggests).
Sorry I can't be any more definitive about the critical weekend forecast just yet. It's not going to be a washout. And before and after the rain chance, it will be a reasonably pleasant (albeit hot) day.
Saturday night will be the big turning point in our air mass. It's going to feel way more comfortable, as dew points drop from the 70s to the 40s. That's dry air!
Thermometers could dip into the 50s in the coolest parts of the state by Sunday morning. Otherwise, 60s.
A nice summer day. Sun and clouds. Highs in the lower 80s. Low humidity. I'm keeping the forecast dry for now.
The Extended Forecast
I can't look too far into the future at this time. Because of Fred.
Tropical Depression Fred was centered between Haiti and Cuba as of 5 a.m. Thursday. That's about 1,300 miles south of New Jersey. The mountains of Hispanola did a number on the storm, now showing a disorganized structure and maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. (Tropical storm strength starts at 39 mph.)
Fred's forecast track still travels along the Gulf coast of Florida this weekend, with a potential landfall near the Florida panhandle Monday morning.
Which direction the storm takes thereafter will dictate New Jersey's weather next week. If it hangs a right turn and ejects into the Atlantic Ocean from the Carolinas, we'll enjoy dry weather and dry air for almost a week straight. However, if it charges farther north and west into the Ohio Valley, our weather would be considerably wetter and more unsettled through the middle to late part of next week.
Plenty of time to figure it all out. In the meantime, stay cool (in more ways than one), stay hydrated, stay safe, and make it a great day!
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.