The Bottom Line

After several spectacular days of April warmth, we now face this week's one wrinkle with a batch of April showers. Of course, we shouldn't complain too much — just over a quarter of New Jersey is in "Moderate Drought" status as of last week. So we really do need the rain.

Your St. Patrick's Day will not be a total washout. You might luck out with some breaks of dry weather through the afternoon. It will be cloudy and dreary, and definitely cooler than the past few days.

We'll flip right back to the warm side on Friday. Our next chance of unsettled, rainy weather is coming up on Saturday. And then it looks like cooler, more seasonable weather will settle in next week.

Thursday

The headline says it all. It will be cloudy, cooler, and (most prominently) occasionally wet.

As of this writing (6 a.m.), we have our first batch of showers and drizzle throughout southern and central New Jersey.

Thursday's rain will come in two waves.

The first round will be from morning through around midday, as scattered showers spread statewide. Nothing wintry, nothing severe, nothing heavy. Just a bit wet.

Then, this afternoon, most of the state should trend drier. However, as the center of this low pressure system passes just south of New Jersey, there will probably be one more wave of rain. Scattered thunderstorms with isolated downpours will be possible, mainly across southern and coastal NJ. So I would keep the umbrella handy.

General rainfall totals will end up less than a quarter-inch. If that afternoon round of storms does develop, rain gauges in South Jersey could end up closer to an inch. A healthy soaking.

High temperatures will get stuck in the mid 50s Thursday. (Although if the second round of rain doesn't develop, 60+ is possible for inland South Jersey.) That's cooler than the last few days, but still above seasonal normals.

As we dry out for good Thursday evening and skies start to clear, temperatures won't get too cold. We'll bottom out in the mid 40s by Friday morning. Not a freeze.

Friday

Once again, temperatures will soar to almost 20 degrees above seasonal normals.

Most highs will hit the lower 70s Friday, with abundant sunshine. I've opted for a dry forecast (ignoring the spot shower that some models paint over NJ Friday morning). The sea breeze machine will fire up, keeping coastal communities substantially cooler. (Especially on barrier islands, surrounded by that chilly bay/ocean water.)

Saturday

The final full day of winter. And our weather will turn more active and more unsettled again.

Once again, the day won't be a total loss. But I think we'll see a few showers and thunderstorms visit the Garden State. Best timing for raindrops would be early, although some showers may linger into the afternoon. Rumbles of thunder will be possible too.

The degree of clouds and duration of rainfall will impact temperatures. My forecast calls for mid 60s. But I wouldn't rule out 70+ if we see some late-day clearing. At the same time, a wetter scenario could keep some temps in the 50s.

Sunday

The brighter, drier day of the weekend. The cooler day too.

Look for a mix of sun and clouds, with a stiff northwesterly breeze. Latest guidance puts high temperatures in the mid 50s. If you don't mind a little bit of wind, it should be a decent first day of Spring.

The Extended Forecast

Monday and Tuesday look good, with highs mainly in the 50s among pleasant, bright skies. No big weather problems there.

But late next week, a series of impulses will ride through New Jersey, producing an extended period of rain. I can't completely rule out a shower at some point on Tuesday. Wednesday could trend wet or dry, depending on geography. And then the real "epicenter" of our next batch of wet, potentially stormy weather would be Thursday into Friday.

Some models are painting a push of cooler air associated with that unsettled weather too, back to below-normal. I wouldn't rule out some wintry weather, especially in North Jersey. But as we've discussed, the threat of a "big" winter storm is minimal at this point of the season.

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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