Stormy Friday for New Jersey, then wicked winds this weekend
No fooling around with this forecast: Strong storms, fierce winds, and a big cooldown are expected for the Garden State through this first weekend of April.
UPDATE as of 3:15 p.m. Friday...
Our overall storm situation has been quieter than expected today. But there is now a line of strong storms out in Pennsylvania. This rain may begin threatening the western edge of New Jersey in the 4 o'clock hour. It will be very important to stay vigilant through the Friday evening commute, in case you encounter a pocket of heavy rain, frequent lightning, and/or potentially damaging winds.
The red lines on the map above show air temperatures. Most of NJ is warm and humid in the 70s this afternoon (except along the shore). That means the atmosphere is ripe for powerful thunderstorms until just after sunset tonight.
Also, see the tightly packed red temperature lines at the left side of this map? That's the cold front, which was the spark for this line of storms. That front will also begin the big cooldown and the big wind threat coming this weekend. Keep reading for more details on this blustery forecast...
ORIGINAL POST from 6:33 a.m. Friday...
Here are your weather headlines for Friday, April 1, 2016...
Scattered Showers and Strong Thunderstorms
So far, this Friday morning has brought light, widely scattered showers to New Jersey - just enough to moisten roads and cars. We just barely missed some stronger storms, which passed about 100 miles off the Jersey Shore.
As a cold front approaches from the west, we are going to have another warm and humid day here in the Garden State. Morning temperatures were in the 60s, and afternoon highs will likely reach the lower to mid 70s once again. The warmth and humidity is helping to maintain a luscious, unstable atmosphere - perfect for strong to severe thunderstorms.
It's certainly not going to rain all day. And not everyone in the state is going to see stormy weather on Friday. But any thunderstorm that does form and/or pass through the state will have the potential to produce heavy downpours, strong wind gusts, and frequent lightning. It looks like the richest environment for such strong storms will be in the southern half of the state (below Interstate 195). But North Jersey, please don't let your guard down through Friday afternoon and evening.
The worst-case scenario? If the sun comes out Friday, even for an hour of two, our atmosphere is going to cook. The temperature could spike to 80 degrees, and the storms could be even stronger given the additional atmospheric energy.
Storms should pulse down after sunset Friday night, and New Jersey should get a period of dry weather from Friday night through early Saturday morning.
Compared to the rest of the weekend, Saturday will be relatively tranquil. Having said that, a period of rain showers will be possible Saturday morning. (The NAM model says widespread rain, while GFS says coastal showers at best. It's a coin flip.) Winds will be breezy (not too windy or gusty) during the daytime hours. And high temperatures should make it into the upper 50s to around 60 degrees.
By Saturday night, the ultimate effects of that cold front will start to be felt here in New Jersey. The pressure gradient (the difference between nearby high and low pressure) will sharpen up significantly, causing the wind to increase dramatically. You will definitely notice it.
Sustained northwesterly winds will reach the 25 to 35 mph range on Sunday, with gusts as high as 60 mph. That's enough to cause some damage, such as blown-off shingles, blown-over lawn furniture, overturned trucks, lost garbage cans, downed trees, and power outages.
The National Weather Service has already issued a High Wind Watch for the entire state of New Jersey, from Midnight to Noon on Sunday. The Watch will almost certainly upgrade to a warning once the strong wind gusts are imminent.
In addition to the fierce winds, we have a huge cooldown ahead for Sunday. High temperatures will only end up in the lower to mid 40s - that's 10+ degrees below normal for early April, and 30+ degrees cooler than Friday. This kind of cold and blustery weather would be uncomfortable, even by "middle of winter" standards! What a nasty day, all around.
If the wind and the cold weren't enough, a weak atmospheric wave will sideswipe New Jersey on Sunday morning. Temperatures throughout the atmosphere may very well be cold enough to sustain some snow showers. Snowflakes aren't unusual in early April, but they'll probably be an unwelcome sight so late in the season. No accumulation is expected: any snowfall will remain very light, and the warm is too warm to sustain any snow build-up.
The chilly temperatures look to stay through at least the first half of next week. Tuesday looks particularly chilly, with high temperatures once again only around the 40 degree mark.