Strong storms possible in New Jersey today, cooldown starts tomorrow
Gusty winds, hail, and very heavy rain will be possible from any storms that form this afternoon in our hot and humid atmosphere.
UPDATE as of 5:00pm...
Oh, thunderstorms... Where are youuuuuu?
Radar remains totally quiet across New Jersey at the moment, while New England has been rocked with some powerful storms this afternoon. Our impending cold front continues to push southward through New Jersey. Dew points have dropped significantly in Ocean and Burlington counties, indicating drier air has arrived.
That front is the thunderstorm trigger we've been waiting for... So if the storms are going to happen, they'll happen soon. The best chance for any strong to severe storm remains along and south of the AC Expressway... but even that chance is dwindling as daylight also dwindles.
From northern Burlington and Ocean counties to the top of the state, I think it's safe to say that you are in the severe clear for tonight.
UPDATE as of 2:30pm...
No storms, no warnings, and no watches yet... but, as expected, the atmosphere is quite "juicy" this afternoon thanks to our hot and humid conditions. Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) is a measure of the instability of the atmosphere, or an air parcel's tendency to keep rising when forced upward. (Strong updrafts = strong thunderstorms) The CAPE is approaching 3000 in far South Jersey this afternoon - that value is impressive for Tornado Alley, nevermind New Jersey!
The ingredients are definitely there for strong thunderstorms; it's just a waiting game at this point to see if/when anything gets kicked off. Gusty winds and heavy downpours will remain the big concerns. The latest model data suggests the strongest storms will likely be limited to the southern half (if not the southern third) of the state. North Jersey, you're already enjoying the northwesterly flow and less humid air behind the front - your storm chances are nil today.
If I had to pick a bullseye for severe weather, I'd maintain what I said in my update from this morning - Atlantic and Cape May counties. And with a later start to the stormy weather, we might have a later finish too... The hourly HRRR model shows thunderstorm activity continuing in South Jersey as late as the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. window tonight. After the front arrives with cooler and drier air, our storm chances will end rapidly early Wednesday morning.
So once again, if storms start popping, they're going to intensify quickly. Keep an eye on the sky, an ear on your radio, and your other eye on the web and social media for updates. Be smart, be safe!
UPDATE as of 9:45am...
The forecast for a steamy and stormy day is trending well. Temperatures are already on track to top 90° for most of the state, and models continue to show strong to severe thunderstorms in the 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. window tonight. The sweet spot for the strongest storms appears to be from Middlesex and Mercer counties southward... In particular, instability and available moisture is likely to be highest where it didn't storm this morning (Atlantic and Cape May counties, I'm looking at you).
To be clear, thunderstorms are not a sure bet for anyone this evening, but the ingredients are there for some pretty ferocious and potentially dangerous weather. Gusty winds over 60 mph, hail, pockets of very heavy rainfall, and even an isolated tornado will be possible. Please be vigilant to changing weather conditions today, especially if you'll be outside for any length of time. (Including the evening commute.)
As always, I will jump on-air and online with live updates if things start getting particularly dark and stormy.
Original Post from 6:05am...
Here are your weather headlines for Tuesday, August 4, 2015...
Hot, Humid, and Stormy
Following a round of heavy showers and electric thunderstorms this morning, we'll have to brave one more day of hot and humid conditions today. Additionally, another batch of potentially fierce thunderstorms will be possible this afternoon and this evening.
We'll start seeing some breaks in the clouds by mid-morning, and that will start our atmosphere cooking. High temperatures today will be in the lower 90s, making it the 8th day in a row of 90+ degree temperatures. (Actually, some model data is suggesting mid 90s for much of the state, but I think this morning's raininess and cloudiness will shave a few degrees off of those highs.) With dew points in the 60s today, it will yet again be a sticky heat.
It will be important to keep an eye on the sky this afternoon and evening, from about 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is especially true from Monmouth and Mercer counties southward, as the southeast section of the state looks to have the deepest pool of available moisture and instability (energy) for these storms to "feed" on. The biggest threats will be pockets of very heavy rainfall and gusty winds, although some hail and even an isolated tornado will be possible.
Because of these concerns, the Storm Prediction Center has placed areas south and east of the NJ Turnpike in a "Slight Risk" for severe weather today. That's the second highest of five categories on the severe weather scale. While the threat may not be high enough to significantly change your plans for today, it will be worthwhile to keep an eye on the sky this afternoon and this evening.
Following the storm chance, a front will bring slightly cooler and drier conditions to the Garden State tonight. Wednesday looks very nice, with partly sunny skies and comfortably warm high temperatures in the mid 80s. I can't rule out a stray shower on Wednesday, but the day does look mostly dry.
Thursday Night to Saturday Morning
The aforementioned front will stall just south of New Jersey late tonight into tomorrow. That position will (thankfully) leave us on the cooler, less humid side of the boundary. However, the front will also provide a bee-line for an approaching storm system. The likely result is an extended period of wet weather to close out the workweek and begin the weekend.
My current thinking is that the rain will hold off until late Thursday - starting after about 4 p.m. or so. Overnight Thursday, it looks like we'll see several hours of heavy and/or steady rain, so there could be some large puddles and/or minor flooding concerns by Friday morning's commute. Rain chances continue all day Friday, which could end up being a "washout". And it looks like we might see at least a few showers lingering through Saturday morning... hopefully they won't push any later into the weekend.
My usual disclaimer... This is a low-to-medium confidence forecast, as a tiny shift in the forecast track of this system will dramatically affect our weather. Frankly, the forecast models have been incredibly wishy-washy resolving this system and the resultant impacts for New Jersey. At this point, we're pretty sure it's going to rain, but the exact timing and location of the heaviest rain is still up for debate and subject to change.
Cooler and Drier
As clouds increase on Thursday, cooler air will continue to infiltrate the state. The result will be the definitive end of our heat wave, and a period of below normal temperatures that will persist through the beginning of next week. Highs on Thursday will be limited to the lower 80s, thanks to mostly cloudy skies and the eventual rain. With potentially steady rain possible for most of Friday, statewide high temperatures may not even reach 80° - if the current forecast holds, Friday would be New Jersey's coolest day since late June!
After the rain clears early in the weekend, we'll see pleasant weather for late Saturday and Sunday. High temperatures will hover around 80° for both days, with a swift ocean breeze up to about 20 mph. That might make things a bit cool for an ideal beach weekend, but I guess it depends how thick your skin is and/or how desperate you are for the sun and the surf.