The Bottom Line
The off-shore "ribbon of rain" is still there. Hovering about 30 miles from the Jersey Shore as of this writing (5:30 a.m.) But that stalled front will exit Thursday, leading to brightening skies and a dry forecast for about 48 hours. Some beautiful summer weather ahead!
The weekend will turn a bit unsettled. And then it's finally going to feel very much like August, with bigtime heat (temperatures in the 90s) and humidity (dew points in the 70s) return by early next week.
The stalled front hanging out just east of New Jersey has been fascinating. For the past two days, I've had "coastal showers" in the forecast. NJ's top rainfall total? A whopping 0.02" at Cape May.
That band of rain has just sat over the ocean, without even a westward wiggle toward New Jersey. I'm not complaining about the dry weather, mind you - it's kept our weather cloudy, but comfortable.
On Thursday, that stalled frontal boundary will fall apart as the associated upper-level trough shifts away. Translation: Clearing skies, from west to east. We're already seeing some solid clearing along the western edge of New Jersey. The Shore may remain in the clouds until late afternoon, but improvements will come eventually.
High temperatures will reach the lower 80s across most of the state Thursday afternoon. Still slightly below early August normals, but nice and warm. Because of early clouds and then sea breeze, the coast will end up cooler, in the mid 70s.
I'd call humidity levels moderate, with dew points hovering between about 60 and 65. That will be consistent through the start of the weekend. Enough to cause a hint of stickiness in the air during the early morning and late night hours. Low temperatures Thursday night will fall into the mid 60s or so.
Hands down, a beautiful summer day. It will be sunny and dry, with a light southerly machine. Thermometers will warm into the seasonable 85 to 90 degree range. The sea breeze machine will keep the Jersey Shore much cooler (more like upper 70s).
For those planning on a beach day, good choice! But keep in mind, the moderate risk of dangerous rip currents will likely continue for another day.
I'm sorry to say the start of the weekend won't be as nice as Thursday and Friday. Especially since skies will become mostly cloudy to overcast again, likely by mid-morning. That alone will keep high temperatures a few degrees cooler, in the mid 80s. Still warm and summery.
The bigger issue will be a shortwave riding toward New Jersey starting Saturday afternoon. I still don't think rain is a sure bet, as it could end up swinging south of New Jersey. But a batch of scattered showers and thunderstorms may affect your outdoor plans through Saturday evening.
One question I'm asked surprisingly often at weather talks and events is which forecast model is my favorite. Which one do I believe to be the best. Which one do I rely on more than others.
And it's a question that can't be answered. My job is to soak in all the available data and information, sort out the junk, and pump out a user-friendly forecast.
I like to see consistency. From model to model. And run to run. That gives me confidence that the computers and the algorithms have a good handle on the forecast, so that I can tell an accurate story.
Long story short (too late), I'm not terribly certain about how Sunday will play out. The latest GFS run adds a wrinkle to the works, showing Saturday's storm system getting "stuck" on top of us. That would lead to a cloudy and cool end to the weekend. Highs only in the 70s? Yikes. It is very odd to see such a dramatic flip-flop in a 72-hour forecast.
But I'm not buying it - yet. On Wednesday, I suggested Sunday would be the start of our next heat wave. And I still think that's the most likely scenario. My on-air forecast still calls for sun and clouds, a popup shower or thunderstorm, and highs near 90 degrees.
However, this piece of the forecast is something to watch carefully over the next 12 to 24 hours. Especially since summer weekends are so precious here in New Jersey. If that "stuck shortwave" thing goes away, I'll be more than happy to have a quiet and pleasant (although hot and humid) second half of the weekend.
The Extended Forecast
Oh baby, hot hot hot! Given the challenges of Sunday's forecast, I'm not 100% sure when our next heat wave will kick off. But we face an extended stretch of August-ish weather, with widespread 90s. And an almost-daily chance of a popup thunderstorm.
Of course, the number to watch will be the heat index - the "feels like" temperature or "apparent" temperature. I suspect we will creep very close to the danger zone (100-ish and above) by the middle of next week (8/10-8/11).
How long will the heat wave last? Not sure. Maybe a week. Maybe two. There's no significant pattern change in sight, so the middle third of August will stay pretty steamy.
There are a couple of tropical waves in the Atlantic that the National Hurricane Center is watching. But there are no immediate concerns for the U.S. East Coast. Of course we are just now coming up on the peak of the Atlnatic hurricane season.