The Bottom Line
It's been a weird start to the year in the New Jersey weather world. We have not frozen yet. Temperatures have been running way above normal. And the damp, inclement weather feels more like typical April conditions than early January.
This is it. Wednesday is the grand finale and the peak of New Jersey's New Year's warmup. Near-record high temperatures are on the table. But we are going to get wet too, with potential thunderstorms in the forecast later on.
The inevitable cooldown starts tomorrow. But our new air mass is not sharply colder and drier than our current one. So temperatures will slowly "leak" downward in the coming days. The end result: By the weekend, it is finally going to feel like January.
Once again, temperatures on this Wednesday morning are mainly in the 50s. There are even a few spots in South Jersey that did not drop below 60 degrees. In January! That's pretty ridiculous.
There are some isolated dollops of fog around, especially in the middle of the school.
The first half of Wednesday actually looks pretty good. Some early fog and lots of clouds. Alongside those warm temperatures.
Highs should reach the lower to mid 60s for most of the state Wednesday afternoon. That is 20+ degrees above normal for this time of year.
The magic number Wednesday is 68 degrees - that is the record high for the 4th of January at all three NJ climate reporting stations: Newark, Trenton, and Atlantic City. Last set in 2000 or 1950, depending on your location.
We also have to talk about some rain. An impulse will spark widespread showers starting around 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and lasting until about 7 p.m. (Maybe lingering a bit longer to the north and east.) It's not going to be a heavy drencher. However, given the warmth (energy) and humidity (moisture) in the atmosphere, some embedded thunderstorm cells are possible - don't be surprised if you hear some rumbles of thunder.
As showers wrap up Wednesday evening, skies will stay cloudy and temperatures will remain mild overnight. Look for lows around 50 - the cold air won't be here yet.
The big transition day. But again, don't expect a big, bad, dramatic arctic blast this time around.
I've actually adjusted this forecast compared to earlier discussions. I think Thursday will turn out to be more "diurnal" than original anticipated. In other words, the morning will be the coolest part of the day, and the afternoon will be the warmer.
Guidance suggests most of the state will climb into the mid 50s by midday Thursday. 60 degrees is a possibility in South Jersey.
I can't rule out a little sprinkle or shower at some point, as skies stay pretty cloudy. If all goes well, the atmosphere will dry out by late afternoon allowing for some peeks of sunshine.
Thursday night will get chillier too. We'll probably see 30s away from urban and coastal areas.
Brighter skies and a fresh breeze prevail. High temperatures will come down to the upper 40s. Still above normal for this time of year. So as long as wind speeds are not too much of a nuisance, Friday should be a decent weather day.
Back to normal. Saturday will finally feel like a typical early January day. A morning frost/freeze will be followed by about 40 to 45 degrees in the afternoon. We should see a pleasant mix of sun and clouds, with dry weather and a light breeze.
Sunday & Beyond
For all intents and purposes, Sunday daytime looks similar to Saturday. Skies will progress from sun to clouds, with highs again stuck deep in the 40s.
The next "thing to watch" is a storm system modeled to arrive in the Sunday night to Monday time frame. It's a little piece of energy, and does not have the signature of a "major" storm. Still, with that newly refreshed cold air, there is a chance for some snow. On the order of an inch or two in New Jersey. We'll keep you posted, since that could be enough to snarl some traffic by Monday morning's commute.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.