NJ weather: Last day of extreme heat, but humidity and rain ahead
The Bottom Line
Are you getting sick of the ferocious September heat yet? If so, there is good news — kind of. Temperatures will relax a bit in the coming days, falling from 90s to 80s. But the slight cooldown is not because a new, refreshing air mass will move in. Instead, the extreme heat will be pushed aside by clouds and rain.
Over the next 7 to 10 days, we could pick up a solid 2 to 3+ inches of rain. It is good catch-up, staving off a late summer drought spiral. But it does mean — (cue dramatic music) — unsettled, occasionally wet weather enters the forecast through the upcoming weekend.
We are also carefully watching the development of Hurricane Lee, way out in the Atlantic. Guidance is largely pointing to a track between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda. But this is one to watch, as it explodes into a major hurricane in the hot water of the tropical Atlantic.
Just like Wednesday. High heat, moderate humidity, and lots of blazing sunshine.
Once again, morning temperatures have not dropped below the 70s, providing a warm starting point for another hot summer day. Highs will reach the lower to mid 90s Thursday afternoon, putting record highs for this date in jeopardy. (Records are 95 at Newark, 94 at Trenton, and 94 at Atlantic City.)
Good news if you're making it a beach day: The official rip current risk has dropped from Moderate to Low.
Besides the heat, there is one other weather headline for Thursday. And that is a cluster of thunderstorms that will approach in the evening hours. Based on the forecast trajectory, storms will mainly impact the western and northern edges of New Jersey. (Although I wouldn't rule out a thunderstorm drifting through the entire northern half of the state.)
There could be some downpours and gusty winds in play. Once sunset passes, storms should fizzle and exit quickly — that is why I am comfortable in saying most of New Jersey will stay dry Thursday evening. (Especially along the coast.)
The rest of Thursday night will be mostly cloudy and muggy. It will be another night with lows mainly in the 70s.
Not everyone in NJ will hit 90 degrees. But someone probably will. That is why I am calling Friday the 6th and final day of this September heat wave.
Temperatures will still be very warm on Friday, reaching the upper 80s to lower 90s. Plus, with humidity ticking upward again, it's going to be another uncomfortably sweaty day.
We will see a mix of sun and clouds throughout Friday.
And then from mid-afternoon into the evening hours — let's say 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. — spotty showers and thunderstorms are possible. This rain activity looks a bit more widespread than Thursday evening's, potentially reaching through the entire state.
And once again, there could be some strong to severe storm cells, so we will all have to keep a vigilant eye on the sky.
This weekend is iffy. There will be periods of pleasant, warm weather. But also pockets of rain.
Saturday might be the better weekend day. It will be mostly cloudy, a description that still allows for peeks of sun. High temperatures will end up in the 80s. (I would not completely rule out a 90-degree reading in South Jersey if sunshine wins out a bit longer than expected.)
In terms of rain chances, spotty to scattered showers look likely Saturday afternoon and evening. There's not really a "best chance" geography to pinpoint for you. But there will be breaks in between the batches of raindrops.
In addition, instability will be limited, so the chance of thunderstorms is low. But humidity will be high, so downpours are possible.
Sunday is trending to be the cloudier, wetter day of the upcoming weekend. But again, it's not a total washout.
If I had to guess, the broadest areas of rain will once again develop in the afternoon and evening hours Sunday. Downpours are back in play through Sunday night.
The Extended Forecast
Monday looks a little more pleasant, with breaks of sun and only a hit-or-miss thunderstorm chance. High temperatures will hold steady in the seasonable lower 80s.
A strong cold front is modeled to arrive in the next Wednesday-Thursday time frame, driving in a period of steady to heavy rain.
And then the forecast for late next week is highly dependent on the exact track of Hurricane Lee. As of Thursday morning, Lee is centered 2,200 miles southeast of New Jersey.
Hurricane Lee is a storm to watch. But I am not really sweating it right now, as the vast majority of guidance takes Lee between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda as a (Category 4) major hurricane. Such a scenario would bring rough surf and clouds to New Jersey, and probably lock in tropical humidity for an extra day or two. But little to no rain or wind.
However, if that aforementioned cold front breaks down or the timing changes, I worry the track of Lee could also shift 100-200 miles west. That is all it would take to bring more serious weather impacts to the Garden State. And possibly some storm surge and coastal flooding concerns for the Jersey Shore.
As usual, stay tuned.
15 Jersey foods that should NEVER be pumpkin-spiced
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.