Severe Thunderstorm Recap

Our first burst of widespread severe weather of 2018 did not disappoint. A line of strong to severe thunderstorms swept through New Jersey between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday. At any given spot, there was about 10 to 15 minutes of wind followed by 15 to 30 minutes of heavy rain, and that was it. As expected, North Jersey got hit the hardest, with the biggest headaches being wind and rain. There are still countless downed trees yet to be cleaned up.

Storm Prediction Center storm reports from Tuesday, showing a huge swath of wind reports for the Garden State. (NOAA / SPC)
Storm Prediction Center storm reports from Tuesday, showing a huge swath of wind reports for the Garden State. (NOAA / SPC)

By the numbers:
--Counties under Severe Thunderstorm Watch: 21
--Number of Severe Weather Reports: 65 (64 wind, 1 hail)
--Top Wind Gust: 67 mph at Lebanon, Hunterdon County
--Largest Hail: 1 inch (quarter-size) at Freehold, Monmouth County
--Top Rain Total (Midnight to Midnight): 1.07" at Upper Deerfield Township, Cumberland County
--Hours Dan Worked on Tuesday: 15 (plus 2 hours of commuting and 1 hour of nap)

An ominous stormy sky over Lawrenceville, N.J. Tuesday evening. (Eric Scott)
An ominous stormy sky over Lawrenceville, N.J. Tuesday evening. (Eric Scott)

Were the storms as fierce as I expected, or as bad as it could have been? Eh, not quite. But it was very close. Here's what didn't happen:
--Top winds managed to stay below 70 mph, but not by much. Pottstown, PA reported an incredible measured wind gust of 81 mph. Beacon, NY had a gust of 78 mph.
--This was a classic squall line, and none of our storm cells became "supercell" thunderstorms. That limited the hail and tornado potential.
--The storms did not "train," or form and re-form over and over again on top of the same area. That limited the flooding potential.

Soggy Weather

The bottom line of this forecast... It's probably going to be raining somewhere in New Jersey at all times between now and Saturday afternoon. Including Tuesday's storms, that equates to about 120 hours of wet weather. While the threat for thunder/lightning and severe weather will remain near-zero, an additional 2 to 4 inches of rainfall is expected. Umbrellas up, windshield wipers on!

The front that pushed Tuesday's thunderstorms through the state has stalled right on top of us. As that boundary remains nearly stationary over the next several days, we'll experience storm system after storm system, driving band of rain after band of rain our way.

As of this writing (6 a.m. Wednesday), it is only raining in South Jersey with pockets of not-too-dense fog out there too. Models show that rain will spread northward again as Wednesday morning presses on, encompassing most of New Jersey by about 10 a.m. So it's going to turn into a pretty wet day, with pockets of steady rain persisting through the afternoon. In the meantime, it will be a cloudy, somewhat breezy, and cool day. Morning temperatures are generally in the 60s, and we'll probably dip into the upper 50s by sunset.

Wednesday night's rainfall looks more scattered and more showery. Fog is likely once again. Temperatures will only dip a few degrees, to the 55 to 60 range by Thursday morning

Periods of light to moderate rain are expected on Thursday too. We might squeeze out a few brief breaks in the wet weather at some point, especially around northern New Jersey. Where it's cloudy and rainy all day, high temperatures will be limited to the mid 60s. If the rain stops for a bit, thermometers may climb into the lower 70s. (Again, that's most likely in North Jersey.)

Steadier, heavier rain looks to return to the Garden State Friday morning. It could be a total washout of a day. High temperatures will only reach the upper 50s to lower 60s — that's 10 to 15 degrees below normal for mid-day, by the way.

Saturday looks mostly wet, with additional bands of rain expected through the morning and early afternoon hours. I am hopeful we'll start to see the clouds break apart by Saturday late afternoon, helping high temperatures to about 70 degrees. Having said that, the GFS model does show a few nighttime showers around NJ through Saturday night.

When Will We Dry Out?

Finally by Sunday, we'll see a break in the sob-fest. In fact, I'm keeping Sunday's forecast completely dry at the moment. Partly sunny skies, a light southwest breeze, and some very warm temperatures in the 80s. Great end to the weekend!

Monday should start start, and we'll see those temperatures soar into the 80s for a second day in a row. However, along comes a cold front, which will be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, that front will solidify our pattern change toward drier weather. On the other hand, it will probably drive a line of (potentially strong) thunderstorms through New Jersey from Monday afternoon through Monday evening.

I'm loving the forecast for next Tuesday, with mostly sunny skies and highs around 80.

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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