A line of strong thunderstorms will push across New Jersey this evening, potentially bringing periods of gusty winds and heavy rain.

The National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center have issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, in effect until 8:00 p.m. this evening. This watch covers all of New Jersey EXCEPT Cape May County...

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means severe weather is possible within a 4 to 8 hour period of time, but bad weather is not guaranteed. In this case, "severe weather" means damaging wind gusts of 70+ mph are possible through this evening. Think of this as an official "heads up" to watch weather conditions closely, especially if you have any outdoor plans. That includes your evening commute.

A Severe Thunderstorm WARNING will be issued when a potentially dangerous storm is impending or already occurring.

These thunderstorms are a result of a strong autumn cold front that is racing toward New Jersey this evening. As warm, moist air is forced upwards into the atmosphere along the leading edge of this cooler air, showers and thunderstorms form.

Today's severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center has upgraded NJ to the "Slight Risk" category.

Because of Friday's relatively high humidity and warm temperatures - around 80 degrees for most of New Jersey - these storms will have plenty of atmospheric energy and moisture to "fuel" them. The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded almost all of New Jersey to a "Slight Risk" for severe weather today.

This evening's strongest thunderstorms will have the potential to cause brief heavy downpours, gusty winds, and frequent lightning.

The most likely timing of the strongest storms and heaviest rain is between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Here is how the evening is expected to play out, illustrated by the HRRR (High-Resolution Rapid Refresh) model...

Simulated radar forecast at 5pm Friday 10/9. A band of strong to severe thunderstorms is expected to be moving through the northern third of New Jersey at this time. (Image College of DuPage Meteorology)
Simulated radar forecast at 7pm Friday 10/9. The storms will move from northwest to southeast. As they make it into central New Jersey, they will lose some of their punch as the sun sets. (Image College of DuPage Meteorology)
Simulated radar forecast at 9pm Friday 10/9. The line of showers and storms will be pushing off New Jersey's south coast, leaving just a few lingering showers through the overnight hours. (Image College of DuPage Meteorology)

After the showers and thunderstorms move off-shore later tonight, the cold front will deliver cooler, drier air to New Jersey for the weekend. High temperatures on Saturday will be limited to the lower to mid 60s. Sunday morning's low temperatures will be among the coolest of the season, with widespread 40s across the state.