The Bottom Line
Our protective dome of high pressure has slid to the south, allowing clouds to take over the sky of New Jersey once again. However, we're still on the edge of a very warm air mass. So Thursday will be the warmest day of the week, with temperatures running about 15 to 20 degrees above normal.
Coming up next, a slow cooldown through the weekend. And we have one substantial chance of rain too. Saturday's rain could be an all-day affair. But at least it will only last one day. And our weather will be wet, not wintry, this time around.
You don't need a weatherman to tell you it is abnormally warm outside.
Thursday morning's temperatures in the lower 50s are above the normal high temperature for mid-December. So you can already guess it's going to be an unseasonably warm day.
Highs for Thursday afternoon should push into the lower 60s across most of the state. Record highs for December 16th are in the mid 60s, so it will be close. (65 at Newark, 66 at Trenton, 66 at Atlantic City.)
Skies will be mostly cloudy, and you'll likely feel a stiff southwesterly breeze at times (up to 20+ mph). Aside from some early morning patchy fog, the daytime hours should stay completely dry.
Thursday night, a weak cold front will drive through New Jersey. But you may not even notice, as we will not face any big wind, big storms, big rain, or big cooldown. A sprinkle may popup in New Jersey through early Friday morning, but that's it. Overnight low temperatures will only descend to around 50 degrees, give or take.
Friday's forecast has actually trended a bit more pleasant.
I'm optimistically thinking a big drop in humidity (both at the surface and aloft) will allow for skies to clear a bit. So I'll call the call "partly sunny" overall, with an especially bright morning. Winds will be light. And once again the daytime hours will stay dry.
Yes, it will be a cooler day than Thursday. But with high temps in the upper 50s, we're definitely still holding above normal.
As our next storm system rolls in from the west, rain will probably start filling in late Friday night. First raindrops expected after Midnight.
Pretty wet. And cooler too.
Pockets of rain will sweep through the Garden State throughout the daytime hours Saturday. It won't be a total washout, but everyone in the state will get wet. At the moment, I'd say the morning hours look wetter than the afternoon. And rainfall totals will be higher in North Jersey (half-inch) than South Jersey (quarter-inch). Nothing severe or overly heavy.
North Jersey will start to tap into cooler air on Saturday, with high temperatures at 40 degrees. It may be cold enough for some snowflakes to mix in, but I still think rain will be the dominant precipitation type.
Drier South Jersey will top out closer to 50 degrees on Saturday.
Drying out and chilling out.
Final raindrops will end by early Sunday morning, at the latest. And skies will slowly start to clear, eventually leading to sunshine by Sunday afternoon.
Sunday is going to be a blustery and colder day. High temperatures will only reach the lower 40s. And with a northwesterly wind gusting to 30 mph, you'll be reminded what December is "supposed to" feel like.
The Extended Forecast
While we had once pinpointed early next week as the timeline for a potential coastal storm, the atmospheric flow has shifted much farther south. So that system is no longer a concern at all.
The first half of the big Christmas week looks quiet and dry. But cold. Our next widespread (hard) freeze will come Sunday night into Monday morning. Mostly sunny and upper 30s on Monday. Mostly sunny and lower 40s on Tuesday. (The Winter Solstice officially hits at 10:58 a.m. Tuesday.) Mostly to partly sunny and mid 40s on Wednesday.
Our weather could turn stormier and more active late next week, right around Christmas. However, there are no prominent concerns worth pinpointing at this time.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.