The Bottom Line
Thursday's hot spot was Cape May Court House, which reached 68 degrees! At 65, the record high at Newark Airport was tied, last set 50 years ago. Atlantic City International Airport (in Egg Harbor Township) came a single degree shy of tying the record.
Although temperatures on Friday will not be quite as warm as Thursday, New Jersey will squeeze out one more mild, dry, pleasant day.
Our next storm system rolls in from Friday night into Saturday. Everyone in New Jersey will get wet. But I don't see anything severe or overly heavy. And the risk of wintry weather will be very limited.
The second half of the weekend will turn blustery and colder, as more December-ish conditions settle in for the start of the big Christmas week.
Technically, a weak cold front passed across New Jersey overnight. You probably didn't even notice. Our new air mass isn't that much cooler than the old one. (Although it is significantly drier.)
So once again, we're starting the day with temperatures mainly in the 50s. And it will be yet another day with thermometers 10+ degrees above normal. Look for highs in the upper 50s to around 60 Friday afternoon. Another mild, pleasant day. Skies will be relatively bright, with sunshine shining through clouds. The wind will blow out of the west, occasionally topping 15 mph.
The daytime hours will be dry. But our next storm system will approach from the west Friday night. And eventually rain will creep in — probably around or after Midnight.
The final weekend of fall and the last shopping weekend before Christmas will start wet. Although I do not expect any dramatic or dangerous weather, we can break the timeline of this storm system into three parts.
Part 1: The Beginning... Things will get started as showers push in from the west between Friday evening and early Saturday morning. For most of New Jersey, it will just be raindrops. However, far northern NJ (the Sussex County area) only may be cold enough for some snowflakes mixed in. (Some models even paint some freezing rain just over the border in NY, but I don't think the ground will be cold enough.) No bigtime travel impacts.
Part 2: The Brunt... The most widespread, steadiest rain of the weekend will come Saturday morning through midday. Everyone in the state will get wet.
Part 3: The End... By about mid-afternoon, the main atmospheric impulse will drift to the northeast, leaving just scattered to spotty ("hit or miss") rain showers over New Jersey. Those showers may be a bit more persistent in North Jersey. But for the rest of the state, you'll see improvements. Raindrops may linger over New Jersey through much of Saturday night.
Amidst the raindrops and clouds, temperatures will start to turn cooler on Saturday. North Jersey will struggle to even reach 40 degrees. South Jersey will be closer to 50.
Some forecast models are now keeping a shower over New Jersey through Sunday morning (8 a.m.) But we will dry out and clear to sunshine by the afternoon.
Meanwhile, a cold front will arrive early Sunday morning, dragging in a much more seasonable colder air mass. So high temperatures on Sunday will be limited to the lower 40s. With a gusty northwest wind, up to 30 mph. So a blustery (although sunny) return to December-ish weather.
Mostly sunny, dry, calm, and cold. Highs will struggle to reach 40 degrees. A middle-of-winter kind of day.
The Extended Forecast
The first half of the big Christmas week looks quiet and seasonably chilly. Models show a near-miss by a coastal storm system on Wednesday — if that drifts closer, we may have to add some clouds, raindrops, and maybe even some snowflakes to the forecast.
More active weather is possible late-week, which brings us to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I don't want to get too specific about anything just yet — but just know it looks interesting, with a legitimate shot of snowflakes or raindrops at some point over the holiday weekend. It's one of the most important forecasts of the year, so we'll be hyper-focused on it all next week.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.