New Jersey is entering a wet and wild period of weather, with two chances for heavy rain through the end of the weekend.

Here are your weather headlines for Tuesday, September 29, 2015...

Heavy Rain Tonight & Tomorrow

While broadcasters and social media will be focusing on the dramatic potential impacts of Tropical Storm Joaquin later this week, we cannot ignore the more immediate threat for heavy rain Tuesday night and Wednesday. You know all that talk about drought and rainfall deficits we have been spouting lately? We might be able to put that concern to rest by the end of the week...

A slow-moving front will push into New Jersey later tonight. As a storm system slides northward along that front, our chances for steady and/or heavy rain will increase.

A few showers and thunderstorms will be possible during the daytime hours on Tuesday, but the outright rain will really begin tonight. Here's the estimated timing of the storm's progression and timing...

NAM simulated radar forecast for September 29-30, 2015. (Model imagery from College of DuPage Meteorology)
NAM simulated radar forecast for September 29-30, 2015. (Model imagery from College of DuPage Meteorology)

This storm was showing some impressive dynamics on the morning models. It is actually tapping into the rich moisture of the Gulf of Mexico AND of Tropical Storm Joaquin. So I am becoming increasingly concerned about the heavy rain and flooding threat on Wednesday. One thing will work in our favor amidst the heavy rain - our ground is very dry (we call that the antecedent soil moisture condition), so it will take a little longer for saturation and flooding to occur.

Overall rainfall totals will likely end up in the healthy 1 to 2 inch range for most of New Jersey. The highest totals are expected in the northwest corner of the state, with the lowest totals along the southern coast. However, there is still some question as to how far south the heaviest rain cells and the big rainfall totals will reach... I have seen forecast rain totals as high as 5 and even 7 inches - that's pretty extreme! My best advice is that everyone in New Jersey should be smart tonight and tomorrow and check the weather before heading out and about. Remember to never underestimate the power of water - flooding is very dangerous. Never attempt to drive, walk, or swim in flooded areas... Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Lull on Thursday

The steady/heavy rain should come to an end by Thursday morning... But a few lingering showers may persist throughout the day on Thursday. In general, the day will be a lull in the wet weather. But New Jersey should still expect cloudy skies, a brisk northeast wind of 15 to 25 mph, and cooler temperatures. Tuesday's highs will be around 80°... Wednesday will end up somewhere in the 70s... And Thursday's high temperatures will only be in the 60s. How autumnal!

Tropical Storm Joaquin

The time has come to start ringing precautionary alarm bells, as the forecast track for Tropical Storm Joaquin looms perilously close to New Jersey. Yes, it's "only" a tropical storm (i.e. not a hurricane), but the potential weather and coastal impacts are still significant.

National Hurricane Center forecast for Tropical Storm Joaquin, as of 5am Tuesday 9/29.
National Hurricane Center forecast for Tropical Storm Joaquin, as of 5am Tuesday 9/29.

As of this writing, Tropical Storm Joaquin is about 900 miles south-southeast of new Jersey, just northeast of the Bahamas. The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center turns Joaquin sharply to the north and right toward the Jersey Shore through this weekend. I believe the official NHC track is too slow - Joaquin will ultimately catch a ride on the jetstream and speed up a bit after its turn to the north. So I expect potential impacts in New Jersey as early as Friday, potentially lasting through Sunday.

Tropical rainfall, winds over 40 mph, and 3-foot storm surge are all on the table for the Friday to Sunday time frame. But with so many question marks surrounding the track and the timing of Joaquin, we cannot pinpoint anything further at this time. Watches and/or warnings would not be posted for New Jersey until Wednesday at the earliest.

Later this morning, we will post a blog with a detailed discussion of the three track scenarios that Tropical Storm Joaquin may take. And of course, we'll keep you updated here on the web and on Facebook and Twitter with the latest as Tropical Storm Joaquin approaches.

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

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