Heat AND Humidity

Well, there you have it — Wednesday was our first 90-degree day of the year in many spots, including Newark and Atlantic City airports. In fact, at 91 degrees, ACY smashed its previous daily high temperature record of 88 last set in 2010. It's not entirely unusual to see 90s in May — at Newark, this is the 4th year in a row in which the first 90 of the season occurred in May.

The heat was pretty bearable on Wednesday, as long as you could catch some shade. As expected, a stiff southwesterly breeze kept the warm air moving around, and humidity levels were manageable. That won't be the case for the next couple of days.

Not a terrible start to your Thursday, albeit warm, with most temperatures in the 60s. (Normal lows: upper 40s.) We'll aim for the 85 to 90 degree range for most of New Jersey Thursday afternoon. Oh yeah, that would be hot and humid in the middle of the Summer!

While Thursday's numbers will end up very similar to Wednesday's, there will be some noticeable changes:
--Increased humidity will make the day much more uncomfortable. Dew points should reach the 60s by the afternoon.
--Increased cloud cover by the afternoon, despite solid sunshine to start the day.
--Increase wind speeds, with gusts to 30 mph, still out of the southwest.
--Pop-up thunderstorms will be possible between about 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. The best forcing will be in North Jersey (north of Interstate 78). Any storms that do form (not a guarantee) could be on the strong side, with brief downpours and gusty winds.

A Few Extra Heads-Ups

The Storm Prediction Center has put northern NJ in a "marginal risk" for severe weather on Thursday.

In addition, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection has declared an Air Quality Alert (Code Orange) for Thursday, from Mercer and Middlesex counties southward. Air pollution concentrations may become unhealthy for sensitive groups, including the very young, the very old, and those with heart and lung conditions. If you fall into one of those categories, you should avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. Air conditioning is your friend!

All of New Jersey also falls under a Red Flag Warning for high fire danger on Thursday. That means dry conditions are ripe for explosive fire growth and difficult firefighting operations. Please don't set any wildfires today.

One More Steamy Day

I'll keep a shower chance in the forecast for Thursday night. And our newly found humidity means overnight low temperatures will not dip below the upper 60s overnight. You're almost certainly going to feel the mugginess Friday morning.

We'll get one more steamy, unseasonably warm, summerlike day on Friday. Skies will be mostly cloudy, with an even-fiercer gusty wind (up to 40 mph). The humidity and cloud cover may stifle high temperatures a few degrees, keeping thermometers slightly below the 90-degree mark.

An approaching cold front looks to push a few showers and thunderstorms into New Jersey Friday night. A period of heavy rain is possible with a quick burst of wind — although the modeled expanse and intensity of the rainfall looks rather unimpressive.

Cooling Down

Yes, that front will cool us down heading into the weekend. But it's not all bad news! Highs on Saturday will reach the lower 70s — that's still above normal for early May! I think we'll get a few breaks of partial sunshine Saturday morning, although forecast models suggest a shower is possible at any time. The better chance for some steadier rain will arrive Saturday night into Sunday.

So Sunday looks wet for now, and quite cloudy as well. That combination alone will keep temperatures at or below 70 degrees. Again, it's not exactly cool — it's seasonable.

The early look at next week shows a sizable area of high pressure building over New Jersey. It's totally possible we'll have another extended period of pleasant, dry, sunny, mild weather from next Monday through Thursday.

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.