If you're wondering why the late Michael Jackson is the poster boy for today's weather forecast, flash back more than a quarter-century to his highly anticipated 1991 album Dangerous. That title should tell you all you need to know about the temperature in the Garden State — and what precautions you should be taking against it.

Let's start with the hard facts up front: The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning between noon Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday for Camden, Gloucester, Mercer, and northwest Burlington counties. There is also a Heat Advisory in effect for Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union counties through 6 p.m. Thursday.

These decrees carry with them the usual safety checklist, like avoiding extended hours or strenuous work outdoors, checking in on the elderly, and shielding young children and pets.

As for what the weather will actually be like? Hazy, hot, and humid, with highs in the mid-90s for Thursday. Heat index values will make it feel like 98 to 102 degrees outside. Thursday night brings little relief; there may be scattered thunderstorms north of I-78, and temperatures will dip into the mid-60s in the northwest corner of New Jersey, but lows will be only in the 70s elsewhere under partly cloudy skies.

Friday brings the same heat, hazy sun, and humidity as Thursday, but there is an increasing chance for a thunderstorm in the afternoon in North and Central Jersey. Highs will range from the upper 80s to mid-90s.

Then, the skies open up.

Both Saturday and Sunday could have the potential for heavy rains leading to flash flooding, with scattered showers and thunderstorms expected statewide. It remains partly cloudy, warm, and humid for the weekend, with highs still expected to top out in the lower 90s.

So, while you're waiting for a cooldown, go ahead and jam (oops...that's another MJ song) to this classic. At least it will help you remember the time (OK, I'll stop now) in which New Jersey will feel some very oppressive heat.

Meteorologist Dan Zarrow returns Monday, July 24. Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter.

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