A stormy Christmas Eve for NJ: 1-3″ of rain, 40-60 mph wind gusts
The Bottom Line
This is quite a roller coaster forecast, as the Christmas excitement continues to build. Two days of warmup, then big rain and wind, then a big cooldown. Weather and travel conditions will get pretty nasty from Christmas Eve night through Christmas Day morning. B1ut we're still talking about mainly wet, not wintry, weather.
Quiet and dry, and probably our nicest day of the week. Chilly temperatures and sunshine in the morning will give way to more substantial cloud cover through the midday and afternoon hours. High temperatures should reach the mid 40s, similar to Monday and Tuesday.
After sunset Wednesday evening, temperatures will dip into the upper 30s. Then thermometers will steadily rise through the overnight hours — rather unusual. We'll probably come close to 50 degrees by sunrise Thursday.
Thursday (Christmas Eve)
Things don't look too bad during the day Christmas Eve. Temps will push to about 60 degrees for all but far northern New Jersey. Skies will be cloudy and winds will be breezy. A few rain showers are possible, especially along the western edge of the state.
The "stuff" will really hit the fan right around sunset Thursday (4:30-ish). That's when I expect the southeasterly wind to really start kicking up. Rain will come a bit later (10-ish), and will be steady to heavy through the overnight hours. Weather will start to calm down after sunrise Friday morning (8-ish).
The nastiest weather impacts include:
—1 to 2 inches of rain, with amounts up to 3 inches to the north and west
—40+ mph wind gusts, possibly as high as 60 mph along the coast
—Thunder and lightning — on Christmas!
A Flood Watch has been issued for northwestern New Jersey: Sussex, Warren, Morris, and Hunterdon counties. A High Wind Watch covers the eastern edge of the state: Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May counties.
Friday (Christmas Day)
The big weather story behind the front on Christmas Day will be a sharp cooldown, as thermometers drop into the 30s by Friday afternoon. Winds will be calmer than the overnight, but a stiff westerly breeze will continue pushing in the cold air.
There are still two very limited chances for snowflakes on Christmas Day. The first will come at the tail-end of the early morning rain — if temperatures start to drop before the rain ends, there could be a quick burst of snow or wintry mix. In addition, stray snow showers or flurries may popup later on, around the afternoon hours. No accumulation and no travel issues. Just the potential for a few magical, festive snowflakes.
One more potential problem will come Friday night, as temperatures continue to fall. If there are any leftover puddles or wet spots from the earlier rain, a "flash freeze" could lead to rapid icing.
Saturday & Sunday
Our weather settles down through the rest of the holiday weekend, although Saturday looks particularly cold. Morning teens and 20s, with afternoon highs only 30 to 35 degrees. At least it will be bright and sunny, with only a light breeze.
On Sunday, thermometers should climb to about the 40 degree mark, with mostly sunny skies. More typical for late December.
The Extended Forecast
I don't see anything too significant on the horizon. Models paint scattered snow and rain showers over New Jersey on Monday. And another potential storm system shows up around New Year's. But we'll tackle the details on that as it gets a little closer. I can tell you that temperatures look to generally stay at or below normal through the rest of 2020. (Keep in mind, we are coming up on the average coldest time of the year in mid-January.)
And that'll do it for me this year! I have some vacation time to burn, which I plan to spend at home with my family. (And cleaning my "Weathercave" home office/studio.) I'll check in from time to time if there's any pressing weather issues — specifically, I do plan to publish an update Thursday morning regarding the rain/wind threat Thursday night.
I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and safe holiday. Unless something big develops in the next week, I'll "see" you next year!
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.