NJ Thursday weather: Wet start, lots of clouds, and a farewell to winter
My ride to work early this morning was pretty awful. Moderate to heavy rain and some very big puddles. Most of New Jersey has seen over a half-inch of total rainfall overnight. Heavy rain will not be an all-day thing, although we do have another bout of wildly active weather in the not-distant future.
By about 7 a.m. Thursday morning, rain will start substantially breaking up across New Jersey. Lingering showers may continue through about 11 a.m. As we dry out Thursday afternoon, we'll keep mostly cloudy skies — that's about 75% cloud cover, allowing for some pops of sun. High temperatures will bump into the 50s for most of the state. (Upper 40s to the north, lower 60s possible inland south.)
We will officially bid farewell to Winter and spring into Spring at 11:50 p.m. Thursday evening. This is the earliest Vernal Equinox since 1896 — a product of the Leap Year and Daylight Saving Time.
Thermometers will only drop a few degrees Thursday night, bottoming out around 50. Another batch of scattered rain showers may creep in by daybreak Friday morning.
I can think of four weather words to describe Friday's forecast:
—Warm... High temperatures will reach into the lower to mid 70s. That's about 20 degrees above normal for mid-March. And the record high at Atlantic City International Airport in particular could be in jeopardy (75 degrees, set in 2010).
—Windy... Southwesterly winds will be sustained at 10 to 20 mph, with potential gusts over 30 mph.
—Clouds... Just like Thursday, we'll see lots of cloud cover overhead. Having said that, there could be pops of sun along the way.
—Unsettled Far from a perfectly lovely early Spring day, a passing shower will be possible at any time Friday. Furthermore, as a strong cold front approaches, a round of thunderstorms is likely Friday evening. Given the warmth and humidity in the atmosphere, it should be no surprise that these storms could be on the strong side, with gusty winds and pockets of very heavy rain.
As we move into the first weekend of Spring, the forecast looks brighter and cooler.
A lingering shower and some clouds are possible Saturday morning, especially in South Jersey. Then skies turn sunny, with seasonably cool high temperatures near 50 degrees.
Sunday gets even cooler. With a high only in the mid 40s, it's not going to feel very springlike. Skies will be mostly sunny through about late afternoon.
And then along comes our next storm system on Monday. And the latest model guidance has taken a strong turn toward colder temperatures. Especially the Euro model, which suggests up to a foot of snow for New Jersey! (Wha?!) The GFS is more reasonable, with a snow-to-rain solution for the northern half of NJ and raw snowfall estimates between 0 and 3 inches.
Given above-freezing air temperatures mainly in the 40s, warming soil temperatures, and the post-Equinox timing, I am highly skeptical of those dramatic snow totals — and so I'm still leaning toward a mainly rain forecast at this time.
With 96 hours to go until first snowflakes/raindrops, there's still plenty of time for models to evolve and resolve on a better solution. If — and again, that's a big if — accumulating snow looks likely for early next week, I promise you'll be among the first to know!