It's not just about how cold it'll be, but more about how long this unseasonable cold will stick around.

This penguin would be pleased by New Jersey's frigid forecast.
This penguin would be pleased by New Jersey's frigid forecast.

Thursday is probably going to be one of the coldest days of 2017 — yes, the entire calendar year. That's pretty impressive, and good reason to brace for some brutal cold and a bitter breeze throughout the day. However, I believe record low temperatures will remain intact, and we do not have any major snow to worry about for the next week at least.

As of this writing, the coldest temperature in the state Thursday morning has been -2 in Sussex County. New Jersey really is a frozen wasteland, as even the "warmest" spots in the state have fallen into the teens. Morning wind chills may drop to (or below) zero at times, which is dangerous cold territory.

And it doesn't get much better, with forecast highs Thursday afternoon in the upper teens for North Jersey, and lower 20s through the rest of the state. That's it, almost 20 degrees below normal. Add a brisk wind, sustained to 20 mph with gusts to 25 mph, and the wind chill will probably remain in the single digits all day.

If you haven't hauled out the heavy winter coat yet, this would be a good day to do it!

Thursday night will be another bitterly cold night, with low temps once again in the single digits and teens. Clouds will steadily increase after Midnight.

And no surprise, Friday will be cold too, with highs only in the mid 20s or so. A few widely scattered snow showers and flurries are possible throughout the day Friday.

We have been watching a complicated storm system setup in the Friday-Saturday time frame, and confidence is now reasonably high that it will not be a significant snowmaker. The heaviest precipitation should stay well off-shore, thanks to the strong arctic high over the Northeast U.S.

Having said that, I believe we will see some wintry weather on Saturday — either snow showers, or maybe a period of steadier light-to-moderate snow. Given the ridiculously cold and dry air, I have to overestimate snow totals (because any snow is likely to be light and fluffy, and accumulate immediately). I think we could an inch or two of fresh snow on the ground by the end of the day Saturday — but don't be surprised or disappointed if you just see a dusting.

High temperatures on Saturday will be mostly in the upper 20s. Models suggest part of South Jersey may bump above freezing for a few hours Saturday afternoon, but it's nothing more than a temporary tease. And we'll still remain 10+ degrees below seasonal normals.

Sunday is New Year's Eve, and another reinforcing blast of colder air looks to push temperatures downward once again. Daytime temps will only reach the lower to mid 20s, despite sunny skies.

As the ball drops in Times Square at Midnight on New Year's, the air temperature will be about 12 degrees, with a wind chill near 0. One of the coldest New Year's celebrations on record.

New Year's forecast, with climatological context.
New Year's forecast, with climatological context.

It looks like Monday, New Year's Day, will be the coldest day of this arctic blast. High temperatures will struggle to even make it to 20 degrees. Certainly a frigid start to 2018.

When will we warm up? Who knows. Models hint at a pattern change around January 4-8, but don't bet on it. The frigid temperatures are here to stay for a while, and any warmup in early to mid January would likely be temporary.

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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