The Smoky, Hazy Bottom Line

Wednesday was one of New Jersey's worst air quality days in a long time. Canadian wildfires continue to chug smoke in our direction. And as of early Thursday morning, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is still in the "Very Unhealthy" range for most of the state (200 to 300). The smoke smell is still strong, and haze will be prominent throughout Thursday.

The smoke and air quality issues from those Canadian wildfires are not just a New Jersey thing — much of the Northeast U.S. is suffering. (Accuweather)
The smoke and air quality issues from those Canadian wildfires are not just a New Jersey thing — much of the Northeast U.S. is suffering. (Accuweather)
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An Air Quality Alert is once again posted for Thursday, for all of New Jersey. It has come back down to "Code Orange" after a "Code Red" was issued on Wednesday.

There are two elements in play here. 1.) Current smoke, which will continue to thin and drift south Thursday. 2.) New smoke, which is shifting west of New Jersey.

Therefore, the big weather headline for Thursday contains good news. Air quality will gradually get better. But still not great.

The broadest, thickest plume of smoke is expected to shift west of New Jersey Thursday, easing our air quality concerns. (Accuweather)
The broadest, thickest plume of smoke is expected to shift west of New Jersey Thursday, easing our air quality concerns. (Accuweather)
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Approximately the northern half of New Jersey will start to see improvements around mid-morning Thursday, as smoke density approximately halves through midday. The dirty smoke plume will linger over southern New Jersey a little longer. Statewide smoke concentrations should slice in half again Thursday night, hopefully putting us below alert criteria.

We still face some haze around on Friday and possibly Saturday. And then a wind shift through the weekend should keep smoke and dirty air away from New Jersey for a while. That is good news, especially as we tap into warmer, more humid, more unsettled weather next week. (Fingers crossed for some healthy rain.)

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Thursday

You'll still smell the smoke and see the haze, at least through the morning. (Again, lingering longer in South Jersey through the afternoon.)

I am hopeful that some sun and some clouds will break through the haze Thursday afternoon.

Morning temperatures are much cooler than expected, as we tanked into the 40s across most of the state. Afternoon highs should reach about 70 to 75 degrees, holding just short of normal levels for this time of year.

A brief rain shower may clip North Jersey late Thursday afternoon. But the air is pretty dry. And the National Weather Service mentions smoke particle nuclei can prevent rainfall. (That piece of analysis is beyond my pay grade.) So don't expect much — I am just including the mention in the forecast as a "just in case".

While smoke is the big weather headline for New Jersey on Thursday, we also can't rule out a shower clipping the northern edge of the state. (Accuweather)
While smoke is the big weather headline for New Jersey on Thursday, we also can't rule out a shower clipping the northern edge of the state. (Accuweather)
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Friday

I still expect there to be a bit of haze around. But the air should be much more breathable.

It will be a partly sunny day, with high temperatures in the lower 70s.

As a piece of energy rotates through New Jersey Friday afternoon and evening, a round of spotty showers looks likely. With rising humidity and some instability in the atmosphere, a few thunderstorms are possible. I doubt severe weather (wind, hail, tornado) will happen. But there could be some quick downpours around dinnertime. Not everyone in NJ will get wet — but upwards of a quarter-inch of rain is possible.

Spotty thunderstorms are expected to develop over New Jersey Friday afternoon. (Accuweather)
Spotty thunderstorms are expected to develop over New Jersey Friday afternoon. (Accuweather)
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Saturday

As long as smoke and haze stay away — which they are currently modeled to do — Saturday has the makings of a pleasant early June day.

If all goes well, New Jersey will end up in a pleasant slice of the atmosphere for both Saturday and Sunday. (Accuweather)
If all goes well, New Jersey will end up in a pleasant slice of the atmosphere for both Saturday and Sunday. (Accuweather)
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We'll see a mix of sun and clouds, with an occasional breeze out of the northwest. Highs will settle in the mid 70s. That is warm enough for the pool or beach if we get enough sunshine.

Sunday

On Sunday, winds flip from northwesterly to southerly. That will put a firm end to the Canadian smoke saga, as it finally gets blown in the other direction.

In addition, that switch will fuel an increase in temperatures, humidity levels, and cloud cover.

Look for mostly cloudy skies, inland highs in the lower 80s, and sticky dew points eventually exceeding 60.

The Extended Forecast

I believe the middle third of June will feature a noticeable change to more typical weather. Models are trending warm — mainly in the 80s. And humid — dew points primarily in the 60s. And unsettled — with a few batches of showers and thunderstorms.

Changes are afoot for next week, as cleaner, warmer, more humid air takes hold of New Jersey. (Accuweather)
Changes are afoot for next week, as cleaner, warmer, more humid air takes hold of New Jersey. (Accuweather)
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As of now, there is a chance of a good one-inch soaking of rain from late Monday into Tuesday. That is the only thing that will help our fire danger and drought concerns right now. So fingers crossed.

Our next widespread, substantial storm system will arrive early next week, in the Monday-Tuesday time frame. (Accuweather)
Our next widespread, substantial storm system will arrive early next week, in the Monday-Tuesday time frame. (Accuweather)
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NJ's crazy haze, choking smoke, and sinister sky

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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