Some rain relief from this dry and pollen-filled May is expected today, but skies will clear significantly by the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.

Here are your weather headlines for Thursday, May 21, 2015...

Today’s Rain

As we have been advertising for several days, New Jersey will be clipped by a storm system pushing through the mid-Atlantic states today. And that system looks to bring clouds, rain, and cooler temperatures to at least part of the Garden State today. As much as we love dry, sunny days around this time of year, the rain is needed really badly to ease the short-term drought - Atlantic City has recorded only 0.14” of rain so far this month. Additionally, rain will wash some pollen out of the air, which will be a welcome change for allergy sufferers.

Since the bulk of this storm system is passing to our south, the biggest impacts here will be in South Jersey. So that leaves three big questions to ponder for today’s forecast... How far north will the rain extend? How far north will the thicker clouds reach? And how will temperatures respond?

Regarding the spread of the rain, I was pleased to see the GFS and NAM forecast models come together on a solution that puts showers as far north as Monmouth County, with steadier rain staying in the southern part of the state. The high-resolution HRRR model even shows some light rain in North Jersey today, so I wouldn’t completely rule out raindrops anywhere in the state today... But it seems the “rain” will be limited to south of I-195, with “showers” expected north of that point.

Even though rainfall should be limited for the northern half of New Jersey, thick clouds will be widespread today. Mostly cloudy to overcast skies are likely.

Meanwhile, the clouds and the rain will keep temperatures on the cool side once again today. South Jersey will struggle to make it to 60°. Meanwhile, since North Jersey will be drier with some potential breaks of sun, afternoon temperatures should approach the upper 60s to about 70°. Yes, North will likely end up quite a bit warmer than South today.

Showers could linger through Midnight or 2 a.m. but then skies will clear rapidly overnight. Some patchy fog is possible by tomorrow morning, with chilly temperatures in the 40s.

First Part of the Weekend

Overall, the daytime hours on Friday are looking fantastic. Mostly sunny skies, a stiff breeze to 20 or 25 mph, and warmer temperatures in the mid 70s will make for a very nice day. However... sigh, there’s always a “however”... a weak cold front will sweep through New Jersey Friday late afternoon/evening. This front has been well-modeled all week, and it still looks mostly dry... but I have to include a slight chance of a shower in the forecast for tomorrow.

The biggest impact of that cold front will be a chilly start to Saturday morning with lows well into the 40s and even some 30s in North Jersey. Furthermore, temperatures on Saturday afternoon will be held below normal too, limited to the 65° to 70° range. Still, with plenty of sunshine, it should be a pleasant day. Not necessarily a great beach day (especially since ocean temperatures are a cool 58° to 61°), but a nice spring day nonetheless.

As high pressure swings out to sea on Sunday, a southwest flow will increase temperatures for the later part of the holiday weekend. Sunday will feature a few fair-weather clouds, and highs bumping into the mid to (maybe) upper 70s.

Memorial Day and Beyond

On Memorial Day Monday, a warm front will increase temperatures further, to about 80°. That warm front will also bring a return to an “unsettled’ weather forecast, with showers and thunderstorms. Yesterday, Monday’s forecast flipped to a pretty wet solution - I even called it a “washout” on the air once or twice. But today, the rain on Monday looks more “scattered” or “on-and-off” or “hit-or-miss”. That’s better news for any Memorial Day ceremonies and parades scheduled for Monday... but still not a perfect holiday weather forecast. Keep an eye on this ever-evolving forecast, and keep that umbrella handy.

Meanwhile, temperatures will really start cooking again next week... As I mentioned, Monday’s highs will be around 80°... and then Tuesday and Wednesday will bump into the mid 80s (with increasing humidity too, of course). The heat will come with a continuing chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms each day.