An extended period of tranquil, mostly dry weather is set to begin for New Jersey, although temperatures will fall below normal in the coming days.

What a noisy night! Some powerful thunderstorms crashed through New Jersey late Tuesday night through early Wednesday morning. Hopefully the combination of thunder, rain, and wind didn't wake you up. A few downed trees and power outages were reported overnight, especially in the Hunterdon County area.

Storms are gone now, and we'll see big improvements throughout Wednesday, at least for most of the state. This is the beginning of an excellent stretch of weather, as long as you don't mind below-normal temperatures.

Behind the rain came a cold front. Behind that front, a cooler, drier air mass is now moving into New Jersey. It will take a while, but by Wednesday afternoon, we should get a taste of that delicious low humidity. For most of the state, we'll enjoy decreasing clouds, increasing sunshine, and high temperatures in the lower to mid 80s.

My only hesitation in Wednesday's forecast is southern and coastal New Jersey. As the aforementioned front stalls just south of the Garden State, lingering showers and clouds may affect the area south of I-195. The latest radar trends show only a few sprinkles in SE PA, so I'm optimistic it will turn into a nice day in South Jersey too.

By Wednesday night, we'll take full advantage of our new dry air mass. Just a few clouds will dot the sky, and temperatures will dip into the comfortably cool lower 60s. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a few 50s sprinkled throughout the state by Thursday morning.

I'm including a "just-in-case" stray shower chance in the forecast for Thursday, but I think it's going to be a pretty nice day. While I've backed off on the sky forecast, to partly sunny, high temperatures are still expected to climb to around the 80 degree mark.

Friday is looking good, with sunshine dominating the sky. Forecast high temperatures are in the upper 70s to around 80 degrees.

Whoa whoa whoa, wait a sec. 70s?! In August?! Yes, New Jersey, that is definitively below normal for this time of year, by about 5 to 8 degrees. Heading into the final weekend of the month, it's going to feel much more like mid-September than late August.

Of course, I think it's still going to be dry and pleasant this weekend, even though temps might be a little cool for the beach or pool. Saturday looks mostly sunny and Sunday progresses to partly sunny. High temperatures will once again be limited to the upper 70s to near 80.

Early next week, winds shift around to an easterly direction. Such a wind means we'll get even cooler, especially along the Jersey Shore. Luckily the wind is blowing over a relatively warm ocean, so it won't be like those cool, cloudy springtime on-shore flow days. Still, highs will probably be limited to the 70s statewide on Monday and Tuesday.

Our next storm system and substantial chance for rain will be in the Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday time frame. This coastal system may have some tropical influence — which means the warm ocean would help to fuel heavy rain and flooding — so it bears watching closely.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.

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