Welcome to Winter: Near-normal temperatures return to NJ
As temperatures moderate to more seasonable levels for late December, the rest of the weather forecast looks mostly calm through the upcoming Christmas weekend.
Here are your weather headlines for Wednesday, December 21, 2016...
The Winter Solstice
It has felt like winter across the Garden State for about a week now, and the winter solstice officially occurred early Wednesday morning. That means the Northern Hemisphere is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, the maximum for the year. It also means we'll only see about 9 1/3 hours of daylight Wednesday, the minimum for the year.
At Newark, for 5 of the last 6 days, high temperatures have ended up below normal. (The exception, of course, was our brief taste of warm air on Sunday.) As we begin the new season, we'll get a nice break from the chill, as temperatures moderate a bit.
Forecast highs for Wednesday range from 41 degrees in North Jersey to 47 degrees in South Jersey, very close to seasonal normals for mid-to-late December. I believe clouds will dominate the sky, although some sunshine is expected too. Winds will be mostly light, and the weather will stay dry during daytime Wednesday.
All around, a "typical" first day of winter.
A Passing Shower
A storm system will pass well north of New Jersey on Thursday. Far enough away that big precipitation impacts won't be an issue. But it'll be close enough to potentially bring us a shower. Anything that falls from the sky on Thursday will be light and brief (i.e. the very definition of a "shower"), and will almost certainly fall as rain (not snow). The best chance for raindrops will be in North Jersey.
High temperatures on Thursday will reach the mid to upper 40s. It might get a little breezy with that storm system in the neighborhood, up to 20 mph. Skies will probably start to clear, with peeks of sunshine emerging by late-day Thursday.
And so we'll be back to sunny skies by Friday. No surprises on the thermometer, as we hold steady in the mid to upper 40s.
The Holiday Weekend
For the first time since 2011 and for the last time until 2022, Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday and Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. And, for the first time since 1978 and for the last time until 2027, the first night of Hanukkah coincides with Christmas Eve.
It's obviously a big travel weekend, and the bottom line of this weather forecast remains the same as I've been plugging all week: No major storms and no weather-related travel disruptions are expected, whether you're traveling by road, by rail, by air, or by sea.
Having said that, a storm system is presenting an increasing chance for widespread light rain on Saturday (Christmas Eve). Best timing as of this morning's model suite would be from morning to afternoon - so, during the daytime hours. With high temperatures in the 40s once again, I'm not concerned about any wintry weather potential. Of course, I'm not ruling out a few snowflakes or some mix, depending on timing. Forecast temperatures have admittedly trended downward for the weekend, so it's worth watching in case the cooling trend continues.
Skies return to sunshine on Sunday (Christmas Day). For the fifth day in a row, forecast high temperatures will hover right around seasonal normals, in the mid to upper 40s.
The forecast for early next week is muddled - I don't completely trust the model output, so I can't put forth a confident forecast. If you held a gun to my head, I would warm temperatures into the 50s on Monday and Tuesday, with a rain chance in there. Somewhere. Again, it doesn't look like a big deal, but I'm not ready to talk timing and precise impacts just yet.