Some near-record high temperatures are in the forecast for the Garden State, along with heavy rain, thunderstorms, wintry mix, and our next arctic blast.

Tuesday was terrific! As promised, the entire Garden State finally broke out of our extended cold spell! Widespread 40s (as warm as 47 degrees in South Jersey) made it bearable (if not pleasant) to go outside again! The mild weather continues for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday — but that's it.

The dreaded "refreeze" is a problem for Wednesday morning. We saw some solid snow melt on Tuesday. With such a hard freeze overnight (temps in the teens and 20s), those puddles have frozen over again. I do not expect any big road problems and, as of this writing, there are no ice-related school delays. Just watch your step as you're walking about this morning — there will be slick spots.

Wednesday will start with mostly sunny skies, with slowly increasing clouds through the afternoon hours. Temperatures should be similar to Tuesday — well, maybe a few degrees cooler due to the increased cloud cover. Highs should make it to around 40 degrees, which is par-for-the-course for early January. Winds will be light, weather will stay dry, and we should get more snow/ice melt once temps bump above 32.

While Wednesday night will be chilly enough to warrant a jacket or sweater, it really won't be that cold. I expect most of New Jersey to stay above freezing all night, with lows in the lower to mid 30s. (So the "refreeze" shouldn't be as big an issue.)

Our warming trend kicks into high gear on Thursday, as high temps soar into the lower to mid 50s. Even though skies will be cloudier than I'd like, it will be a pleasantly mild day.

By Friday, we'll make a run for 60+ degrees. Just five days after temperatures struggled to reach 20+ degrees! Record highs right now are in the mid 60s, so they could be in jeopardy.

However, a slow-moving storm system adds an extended chance of rain to the forecast all day Friday. First raindrops will likely move into western NJ just after Midnight early Friday morning. There will be pockets of steady, if not heavy, rain along the way during Friday's daytime hours. And rumbles of thunder will be possible too. But I don't think it will be a washout — there should be substantial breaks in the rainfall action, especially Friday afternoon and evening.

Total rainfall will most likely end up between a half-inch and an inch for most areas. Certainly healthy rainfall, but nothing earth-shattering. However, the combination of rain and warm temperatures will cause a great deal of snow and ice melt. Flooding could become an issue in areas where storm drains are inundated or blocked. An even bigger risk would be ice jams along waterways, where chunks of ice break apart and then get "stuck" under bridges or along the banks. That can also cause flooding problems, and possibly impact marine traffic as well.

The rain looks to wrap up Saturday by about 10 a.m. I'm still concerned about the precise timing of 1.) the end of the precipitation, and 2.) the timing of the subsequent arctic intrusion. If the center of this storm system tracks further east than currently forecast — in other words, if cold air creeps in earlier than expected — there could be a period of wintry mix Saturday morning. Again, there are numerous variables here, and the current forecast calls for just rain. I just have to keep the wintry solution on the table as a "slight chance" for now.

As arctic air returns, temperatures will begin to tumble by Saturday afternoon, from the 50s to the 30s by the end of the day. And then it's back to the frigid side of the word on Sunday, with highs in the lower to mid 30s. On Monday, thermometers will likely stay below freezing all day long. Bleh.

On the horizon, next Tuesday, is a storm setup worth watching. The combination of a clipper system and coastal system could lead to some significant snowfall. At the moment, models are not phasing properly for a big winter storm for New Jersey. But again, it's something we'll continue to monitor and talk about. We won't start adding details to this forecast (if warranted) until the weekend, at the earliest.

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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