UPDATE as of Noon Wednesday...

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for all 21 counties of New Jersey until 8 p.m.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch (pink) has been issued for all of NJ until 8 p.m.

Scattered strong thunderstorms will be capable of producing damaging winds and large hail through Wednesday afternoon. Heavy downpours may lead to ponding of roadways and low-lying areas. And lightning makes every thunderstorm potentially dangerous.

Stay alert to changing weather conditions this afternoon. When thunder roars, head indoors. Especially if a warning is issued for your area.

More on this thunderstorm threat, the smoke in the atmosphere, and our impending cold front below...


ORIGINAL POST from 6:09 a.m. Wednesday...

The Bottom Line

We have a trio of spectacular summer days in the forecast. But we have to get there first, after an active weather Wednesday. Smoke in the atmosphere will once again lead to haziness and poor air quality. A round of scattered strong thunderstorms will sweep through the state. And then we're all looking forward to the arrival of a drier, cooler, cleaner air mass Wednesday night.

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Wednesday

1.) Smoky... I saw a ton of photos on social media Tuesday, showing the "weird" sky. An orange sun, an orange moon, a grey-white sky, a spectacular sunset. It's all due to smoke particles from wildfires in the western U.S. and Canada, traveling through our atmosphere.

Smoke is very dirty. And the concentration of smoke will reach its peak over New Jersey Wednesday morning. So skies will once again be hazy and washed-out to start the day. In addition, models show particulate matter reaching the "Unhealthy" range. Although there's no official Air Quality Alert as of this writing, Asthma sufferers may have some extra issues.

Wednesday's air quality forecast. Pollution levels will reach the "unhealthy" range for much of NJ, due to fine particulate matter in the air. (EPA AirNow)
Status of air quality monitoring stations across New Jersey. Green is good. Red is bad. Blame wildfire smoke. (NJ DEP)

2.) Steamy... Despite the haze, it's still going to be a very warm summer day.

Morning lows in the lower 70s. Afternoon highs in the seasonable mid to upper 80s. Until thunderstorms roll in, we should see abundant (hazy) sunshine.

High-resolution NAM model temperature forecast for Wednesday afternoon, just before thunderstorms arrive. It will be a seasonable mid-summer day, with highs in the mid to upper 80s. (Pivotal Weather)

3.) Stormy... An approaching cold front will fire off a round of scattered strong thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon. The best timing for storms is literally after Noon and before about 5 p.m. (A lingering shower may carry into through this evening.)

Now let's break down that forecast description. "Scattered" means the storms will be broken apart - it is wholly possible that not everyone in New Jersey will experience a storm. "Strong" refers specifically to the threat of damaging winds and hail - severe thunderstorm watches and warnings will likely be issued. And "Thunderstorms," by definition, contain lightning - that's always potentially dangerous.

Wednesday's severe weather outlook puts almost all of New Jersey in a "slight risk" (level 2 of 5) for severe wind and/or hail. (NOAA / SPC)
The HRRR model forecast for about 3 p.m. Wednesday showers scattered strong thunderstorms driving through New Jersey. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

I think our biggest concerns with Wednesday afternoon's storms will be wind and hail. There could be some brief downpours. But the ground has had the opportunity to dry out a bit from last week's rain. And the air isn't that juicy. So the risk for widespread flash flooding will be minimized.

As rain exits the Garden State Wednesday evening, skies will start to clear. It will become breezy overnight, blowing out of the northwest at upwards of 20-25 mph. That's our new air mass "whooshing" in. I think it's going to feel quite refreshing by Thursday morning, as temperatures dip into the lower-mid 60s across most of the state. NW NJ will probably see 50s.

Thursday

Simply gorgeous! By the time you wake up Thursday morning, humidity will be zapped from the atmosphere. Dew points will hover in the 50s all day - that does not happen very often in the summertime. We'll see a mix of sun and clouds, with dry weather. And it will be warm, not hot, with highs in the lower 80s.

Many have started calling Thursday one of the nicest weather days of the entire summer... And I agree!

The southward shift in the jet stream will also push the wildfire smoke out of New Jersey's atmosphere. Air quality and visibility should dramatically improve on Thursday.

Friday

Another beauty! Mostly sunny and dry. Warm and not humid. Highs again will reach the lower 80s. (Maybe a degree or two warmer than Thursday.)

The Weekend & Beyond

I like the way Saturday looks too. Clear and dry, with highs warming into the lower to mid 80s. (Again, thermometers probably rising a degree or two compared to Friday.) Dew points will return to about 60 on Saturday - not muggy yet, but the beginning of a trend.

The warming trend continues on Sunday, with highs in the mid to upper 80s. But the second half of the weekend could get a bit iffy and unsettled. A few pockets of rain are possible for Sunday, especially early and late. Skies will be mostly cloudy. And high temps will return to near-normal levels, in the upper 80s.

Monday will be very similar to Sunday. Occasional showers, with hot high temperatures flirting with 90.

The current forecast calls for a cold front putting a (temporary) halt to rising temperatures and dew points on Tuesday.

There are still no tropical concerns in the Atlantic basin.

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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