An unsettled start to summer for NJ: Raindrops, clouds, humidity
The Bottom Line
Happy first day of summer! The solstice officially occurred at 5:13 a.m. Tuesday morning, the moment when Earth's Northern Hemisphere is tilted closest to the sun. It is the "longest day of the year," with over 15 hours of daylight. And, of course, it's all downhill from here until the Winter Solstice in December.
There are two big weather headlines to discuss.
First, a serious wildfire continues to burn in the Wharton State Forest of Burlington County. A wind shift will blow smoke toward more of New Jersey.
Second, a slow-moving storm system means a return to unsettled weather is expected for the next two to three days. That means raindrops, clouds, humidity, and cooler temperatures.
I will say that the forecast for the weekend is looking better, brighter, drier, warmer, and more summer-ish.
You may be able to dodge raindrops for most of the day. And if that's the case, it won't be a bad start to summer at all.
Skies will be mostly cloudy throughout Tuesday. And a few passing showers will travel through the state starting from mid-morning through mid-afternoon. That rain then looks to become steadier and more widespread from mid-afternoon through Tuesday evening.
High temperatures should reach about 75 to 80 degrees. Sure it's below-normal and cooler than the last few days. But it should be a comfortably warm day. (I love me some 70s.)
With pockets of rain likely Tuesday evening and overnight. I think the majority of New Jersey will get wet.
Humidity levels will also be on the rise Tuesday, as a southerly breeze transports moisture and pushes dew points into the 60s.
Of course, rain and higher humidity are pieces of good news for firefighters in the Wharton State Forest in Burlington County. The shift in wind direction from northerly to southerly is not though, blowing smoke in the opposite direction. That means South Jersey gets a fresh of fresh air, while most of New Jersey may now experience a smoky smell, hazy sky, poor air quality, and colorful sunrises/sunsets.
Overall, not a great day. Pretty "blah" really. With that storm system still crawling through the area, New Jersey will fall under the influence of a marine air mass. That will keep our weather cloudy, drizzling, and cool. I expect most high temperatures will be stuck at or below 70 degrees.
However, along the western edge of the state, there is a chance for some sun. That would have the effect of 1.) bumping temperatures closer to 80 degrees, and 2.) cooking the atmosphere, raising concerns for severe weather.
Eventually, a front will roll in from the west, sweeping in a band of steady to heavy rain and potential thunderstorms. Wednesday night is probably going to be the wettest period of the week. And there could be some gusty thunderstorms and flooding downpours to watch out for. Some rainfall totals may exceed an inch. (The Euro model actually pumps out 2 to 3+ inches of rain through Wednesday night, which seems unreasonable.)
Thursday will start with rain, probably through about mid-morning. Then, as that pesky storm system finally departs, hopefully we'll see partial clearing through the afternoon. It's not a guarantee, but I'm optimistic about the brighter, drier skies.
High temperatures will depend largely on how much clearing we see. Breaks of sun? Upper 70s. Socked in by clouds and showers? Lower 70s.
If all goes well, we'll begin a pattern of warm, summer-ish days on Friday. Under partly sunny skies, high temperatures should spike toward 80 degrees. I can't completely rule out a shower at some point, but Friday's forecast does look primarily dry.
The Weekend & Beyond
In Monday's weather blog, I raised concerns about the aforementioned storm system getting "stuck" and spitting clouds, showers, and on-shore breezes toward New Jersey through the weekend. But the latest guidance suggests that disturbance will be far enough away to be a non-issue.
Our latest forecast shows mixed periods of sun and clouds for both Saturday and Sunday, with seasonable, summer-ish high temperatures in the 80s. Humidity levels will be moderate — noticeable, but not tropical.
Next cold front is progged for Monday the 27th, ushering in rain and then somewhat cooler, drier air for the final few days of June.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.