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So much for Fall weather – 80s and raindrops return to NJ’s forecast

Change is in the air, as temperatures end up well above normal for early October and the Garden State sees rain for the first time in over two weeks.

Maps: College of DuPage Meteorology
Maps: College of DuPage Meteorology

Here are your weather headlines for Thursday, October 5, 2017…

Wow, What a Warmup!

You will notice a difference in our weather conditions the instant you walk out the front door on this Thursday morning. The past 5 mornings in a row were pretty chilly, with widespread 40s (and even a few 30s) on the temperature map. But not anymore! Thanks to an increase in atmospheric moisture (read: humidity), the floor for overnight temperatures has been raised. So we’re starting out in the upper 50s to lower 60s, which is decidedly warmer than normal for early October.

HRRR model temperature forecast for Thursday afternoon.  (College of DuPage Meteorology)
HRRR model temperature forecast for Thursday afternoon. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

By Thursday afternoon, thermometers will climb into the lower 80s across most of New Jersey. (Look for upper 70s in NW NJ and along the coast.) We’ll enjoy a delightful mix of sun and clouds alongside a fresh southwesterly breeze.

The warmth will continue for the foreseeable future too. Friday’s forecast highs are in the upper 70s to around 80 degrees. We’ll start the weekend nice and warm, with lower 80s again. An occasionally gusty wind might be a bit of a nuisance on Saturday.

Sorry autumn lovers — I don’t see normal or below-normal (a.k.a. “fall-like”) temperatures resuming for the next week, at least.

Sprinkles and Showers

The Garden State has gone from green to brown, as our weather has been bone-dry for about 15 days. That is about to change with raindrops possible on 5 of the next 6 calendar days (Saturday is the lone exception).

Thursday’s rain chance is about as minimal as you can get. A very weak cold front will stall and dissipate right over northern New Jersey Thursday morning. As it does, a few raindrops may temporarily fall across the area. The rest of the state, and the rest of the daytime hours, should remain dry.

HRRR model simulated radar forecast for Thursday evening.  (College of DuPage Meteorology)
HRRR model simulated radar forecast for Thursday evening. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

The skeletal remains of that aforementioned front will serve as a “railroad” for an approaching shortwave — a small, fairly weak atmospheric disturbance. The latest model data shows a good consensus for an area of light rain pushing through northern and central New Jersey between about 5 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday. So it could turn into a wet evening, north of about Interstate 195. I do not anticipate anything too torrential, although a bit of instability in the atmosphere could help fuel a few embedded downpours and/or rumbles of thunder.

The earlier timing of this batch of rain means I anticipate Friday’s daytime hours to remain dry. Clouds will probably win the sky, keeping temperatures slightly cooler. (But still well above early October norms.)

Steadier, Heavier Rain?

Our next storm system arrives early next week, providing New Jersey’s first substantial rain chance in a very long time. We could end up with several inches of total precipitation, depending on whether tropical moisture comes into play.

As a front approaches, scattered showers will be possible throughout the day on Sunday, from about 8 a.m. onward. It won’t be a washout, but raindrops might get in the way of your outdoor plans for the second half of the weekend. The rain chances will continue into Monday too.

Tropical Depression 16 forecast update, as of 5 a.m. Thursday.  (NOAA / NHC)
Tropical Depression 16 forecast update, as of 5 a.m. Thursday. (NOAA / NHC)

So let’s talk about that tropical moisture, which would stem from what is now Tropical Depression 16. Expected to become Tropical Storm Nate later Thursday, the storm will likely strength into a category 1 or 2 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, before threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday morning. As it continues to slide inland, the remnants of 16/Nate are forecast to reach our neighborhood late Monday.

GFS model precipitation forecast for Monday afternoon.  (College of DuPage Meteorology)
GFS model precipitation forecast for Monday afternoon. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

I am not concerned about tropical storm conditions, and hopefully the inland approach of the storm will prevent any coastal flooding and rough surf issues. (Eh, winds might get a little gusty.) However, I will offer my usual mantra — never underestimate storm systems of tropical origin. I think we could see periods of very heavy rain on Monday, possibly lasting into Tuesday morning. Rainfall totals in excess of 2 inches will be possible, completely erasing our dry weather deficit since mid-September.

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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