NJ needs rain, but there are only 2 minor chances ahead this week
The Bottom Line
The air mass over New Jersey is ridiculously dry. (I literally can't remember the last time we had dew points so far below zero.) That is a big contributor to continuing high fire danger. And will also lead to crystal clear skies and unseasonably chilly temperatures too.
New Jersey hasn't seen widespread rain in exactly two weeks. And, although there are two batches of raindrops aiming for the state this week, it probably won't be enough to stave off the spiral of fire danger and potential drought.
The arctic chill has returned. While Sunday's highs reached the 50s across the state, that ferocious wind overnight has carried in much colder air.
We're starting winter's final workweek with temperatures near 30 degrees. Wind chills are in the teens and 20s across most of the state, with wind gusts still popping over 30 mph. It's definitely cold and blustery out there, so bundle up.
We'll only see a high temperature around 40 degrees Monday afternoon. That would be typical of the middle of winter. For the Ides of March, it is at least 10 degrees below normal. And Monday will be our coldest day in over a week. At least it will be sunny and dry. The northwesterly wind will die down noticeably Monday afternoon too.
Because of the combination of dry brush, low humidity, and strong winds, the wildfire danger remains very high. A Red Flag Warning continues for almost all of New Jersey (the lone exception: Sussex County) until 5 p.m.
Clouds will roll in Monday night, as we face a really cold night. Lows will bottom out in the lower 20s for most, with teens in the coldest spots.
Our weather looks cloudy and grey on Tuesday. And still cold too, with highs only in the lower 40s.
Eventually, a weak storm system will pass well south of New Jersey, ejecting into the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia and North Carolina. Given the storm's track and intensity, in addition to our ridiculously dry air, we shouldn't expect much here.
It does look like spotty showers will push through New Jersey from Tuesday late afternoon (4 p.m.) through Wednesday morning (8 a.m.) Rainfall amounts will probably total about 0.05".
To the north, approximately north of Interstate 78, there's a chance for some snow or wintry mix during the overnight hours too. Little to no accumulation is expected. I suppose you should be on your toes for slippery spots - but again, it's barely worth a mention.
As morning showers wrap up, we should see partial clearing. I'll be optimistic and call the day "partly sunny".
In addition, a flip to southerly winds will spark a little warmup. Highs on Wednesday should touch a more seasonable 50 degrees. Not bad.
Another storm system will pass over New Jersey on Thursday, our best chance of rain in the next 7 to 10 days (at least).
At the moment, timing of those raindrops looks to be from Thursday morning through Friday morning. Models paint an almost completely rainy solution, although I wouldn't rule out limited snowflakes in North Jersey at the tail-end of this thing. Total rainfall is forecast to end up between a half-inch and an inch. Healthy, but not heavy.
High temperatures on Thursday should once again reach the 50-degree mark.
The Extended Forecast
We descend into the cold zone again on Friday, with highs in the lower 40s and a gusty north wind.
The weekend looks better. Bright sunshine and dry conditions will help high temps to near 50 on Saturday and mid 50s on Sunday. Keep in mind, it will remain pretty cool along the Jersey Shore, with sea breezes likely and chilly ocean temperatures still in the 40s.
Long-range models suggest this weekend will be the beginning of a sustained warmup. Widespread 60s (at least) would make for some pleasant weather heading into the final third of March.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.