Scattered showers and strong thunderstorms will pop up over the next 24 hours, before our weather clears out just in time for the upcoming weekend.

UPDATE as of 5:00 PM on Thursday, July 9...

The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all 21 counties in New Jersey until 11:00 p.m. A watch means that severe thunderstorms will be possible - it literally means you need to "watch" the weather closely.

There is evidence that these storms are slightly weaker than expected as they approach from Pennsylvania. But let's not let our guard down. These storms are still expected to contain gusty winds (60+ mph), very heavy rain (potentially leading to flash flooding), frequent lightning, and an isolated tornado threat. The strongest storms are expected mainly in the 7-10 p.m. time frame (but could linger until about Midnight). It will be very important to stay weather aware, and monitor changing weather conditions.

My best advice would be to stay home this evening if possible!

UPDATE as of 10:00 AM on Thursday, July 9...

The latest runs of the HRRR (High Resolution Rapid Refresh) model have sped up the impending storm system that will likely bring some powerful thunderstorms to New Jersey tonight. At this point, the strongest storms should impact New Jersey starting around 7 p.m., with rain potentially sweeping through by about Midnight. The Storm Prediction Center has also upped the severe wind threat for eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey to an "Enhanced Risk" - that basically includes the western tier of New Jersey counties, along the Delaware River. This area of concern coincides with the risk for an isolated tornado. (See the updated "feature graphic" below for the latest maps.)

It is very important that everyone in New Jersey monitors the weather closely tonight, especially if you'll be out and about. We will push an update to this article and to social media this afternoon, and will have live on-air weather updates as warranted during the storms.

Original post from 6:00 AM...

Here are your weather headlines for Thursday, July 9, 2015...

Rain Today

Current weather radar

As of this writing, showers are returning to the northwest corner of New Jersey. Scattered raindrops are possible throughout the day, peaking this afternoon with some potentially loud thunderstorms. It'll be a good idea to keep an umbrella handy today and keep that ever watchful sky on the occasionally darkening sky. We'll likely see some breaks of sun in between the raindrops today.

Stormy Night

Tonight's storms are likely to be even stronger, as a compact area of low pressure tracks right over or just north of New Jersey tonight. Timing for this rain would be in the 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. time frame, likely peaking around 9 or 10 p.m. tonight.

Severe wind outlook from the Storm Prediction Center for July 9, 2015.

There are three potential concerns for this batch of storms... Heavy rain will be possible statewide, potentially leading to some flooding. Second, I'm concerned about marginally severe, potentially damaging winds (> 60 mph), especially for the western tier of counties in New Jersey along the Delaware River. And third, the Storm Prediction Center makes mention of a chance for a couple of isolated tornadoes from this system - there's a 5% tornado risk for the area around Warren and Hunterdon counties tonight.

So it will probably be a good night to just stay in, and it might be smart to keep an eye on current weather conditions if you're in that area of highest severe weather risk.

Staying Hot

Skies will begin to clear after about 3 a.m. Friday morning. We should be partly sunny by daybreak and mostly sunny by Friday afternoon. The sunshine will help high temperatures reach the 83° to 88° range. With dew points falling to about 60°, the humidity and comfort levels will be manageable - not too oppressive, but not too dry either.

Heading into this weekend, there's nothing on the weather map that will prevent a mostly sunny and hot summer weekend. Highs on Saturday will generally reach the upper 80s, and Sunday looks to be a hair warmer around 90°. Want to beat the heat? Head to the Jersey Shore, where temperatures will be a bit cooler.

Saturday and Sunday will start 5+ days in a row of hotter than normal days, as highs will remain near 90° for the first half of next week. Unfortunately, an increase in humidity looks to happen Tuesday into Wednesday too, making the heat quite uncomfortable by the middle of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday will also be our next chance for widespread rain.