The Bottom Line

Here we go! One of the busiest travel periods of the year. And therefore, one of the most important weather forecasts of the year too.

Your Thanksgiving getaway conditions look nearly perfect, with sunshine, dry weather, and warming temperatures through the holiday itself.

Black Friday will be a day of transition, from rain to cold.

And there is another ominous something looming at the end of the weekend: The potential for snow and/or wintry mix for Sunday into Monday.

Wednesday

Cool and quiet. Sunny skies, dry conditions, and lighter winds than Tuesday will make it a reasonably pleasant day. Having said that, temperatures are still very much on the cool side, ending up 5 to 10 degrees below normal. It feels more like late December than late November.

Other than needing sunglasses and a hearty jacket, I foresee no travel impacts (by road, by rail, by air or by sea).

It is also worth mentioning that the growing season has now ended for all of New Jersey. The final hold-outs that did not freeze until Wednesday morning were Newark Airport and Atlantic City Marina.

Thursday (Thanksgiving)

All week, I've been advertising Thursday as the warmest and therefore nicest day of the week. And that's still where our forecast falls, I am happy to say.

With periods of sun and clouds, high temperatures will push into the 50s. Our only seasonable (near-normal) day through the end of the month. A surprise shower isn't impossible, especially in the evening hours. But in general, I still really like what I see for those traveling, taking in a parade, attending a football game, cooking/dining outdoors, etc.

Friday (Black Friday)

Another transition day, with another cold front sweeping through New Jersey.

First, we'll get wet Friday morning, as a batch of scattered light-moderate rain passes across New Jersey. Best timing for raindrops would be about Midnight to 10 a.m. Quick, fairly light, and fairly uneventful - although if you'll be out at the store for some early morning Black Friday madness, grab an umbrella.

Part two of the cold front impacts will begin Friday afternoon. Temperatures will tumble from a high in the upper 40s. It will turn blustery too, with northwesterly wind gusts popping over 30 mph.

Saturday

Just plain cold.

A widespread freeze in the morning, with low temps in the upper 20s to lower 30s. And highs will struggle to climb past the lower 40s. It will be sunny but breezy, especially through the first half of the day.

Sunday

Sunday is a very popular travel day. And now we're tracking the possibility of some weather issues.

A shortwave driving in from the west will bring a chance of precipitation during the daytime hours on Sunday, potentially lingering into Sunday night and even Monday too. Given the newly refreshed cold air in our atmosphere, we absolutely have to think about the chance for a snow or wintry mix component.

I want to caution and remind you that we have to handle storm systems very carefully and very slowly during "snow season". Sunday is still 4 days (96+ hours) away, which leaves plenty of time for the forecast details to change and evolve, including timing, temperatures, precipitation types, accumulations, etc. Those elements can all have a significant impact on what happens in your backyard.

In this case, I will say that the setup does not look conducive to a "major" winter storm. (i.e. one that produces over a half-foot of snow, long-lived travel problems, etc.) Temperatures will be a problem, with mixing and/or a rain-snow transition possible. Available moisture is also a concern, which would help limit precipitation.

Worst-case scenario at this point? By raw model output, 5 inches of snow. Best-case scenario? Just a little bit of rain. Lots of middle-road possibilities on the table there. Because any bit or snow (or even heavy rain/wind) could have impacts on the big holiday weekend travel-home day, we have to watch this situation very closely.

Given the uncertainty, the importance of this forecast, and my distaste for "hype," that is all I'll say about Sunday's storm for now. We'll start dialing in more confident details after the Thanksgiving holiday, on Friday. Stay tuned.

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

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