NJ weather this week: From cooler to big heat, possible rain on the horizon
As of this week, part of New Jersey — 12.34 percent of the state, to be exact — is officially in drought. Lawns are brown, streams are drying up, and voluntary water restrictions are already in effect.
Our recent stretch of dry weather has been a hot topic of conversation lately. So I decided to do a comprehensive deep dive into our spiraling drought situation. What is drought, and how do we monitor it? When did it start? Who is in the worst shape in New Jersey? How bad is it? And how much rain do we need to recover?
Welcome to August! On the backside of summer, this is New Jersey's 2nd hottest and 2nd wettest month of the year (on average). We'll get a of taste both of those statistics in the week ahead.
We are coming off a stellar summer weekend, with beautiful weather both Saturday and Sunday. Plus — bonus! — it rained overnight. Over a half-inch of rain fell in spots. Not a drought buster, but at least the wet weather "rewinds the clock" about a week on our drought status.
As showers exit, the rest of Monday looks ... weird. It could be our coolest day since late June, although still humid with barely a breeze.
Heat and humidity surge again on Tuesday, as widespread 90s return to New Jersey. Humidity will dial back again on Wednesday, making for a pleasant summer day.
We face one day of dangerous, near-record heat on Thursday, as temperatures approach 100 degrees. And then wet, stormy weather is in the forecast for Friday.
As of this writing (6 a.m.), the last tail of this batch of scattered rain is still pushing through the middle of New Jersey. Radar trends push most rain out of the state by around the 8 a.m. hour, with final raindrops coming around late Monday morning.
Skies will turn partly sunny Monday afternoon. More prominently, it is not going to be all that hot. High temperatures will range from the mid 70s in North Jersey to the mid 80s in South Jersey. So we'll call that "around 80 degrees". That is a bit below normal for the first of August. And also, potentially our "coolest" day since late June.
It is still going to be humid though, with a dew point near 70. And with hardly a breeze, the air will be still and sticky.
Monday night stays quiet, with mostly clear skies and seasonable mugginess. Thermometers will meet the dew point around 70 degrees.
Back to heat and humidity. With mostly sunny skies, high temperatures will soar into the lower 90s (away from the coast). The heat index ("feels like" or "apparent" temperature) may enter the mid 90s.
A cold front will sweep across New Jersey late-day Tuesday. The chance of a late-day shower or thunderstorm is not zero. But it looks pretty moisture-starved and pretty dry. So I have opted to leave rain chances out of my on-air forecast, as it will be very isolated at best. (Most likely to the north.)
It will still be very warm — sporadic 90-degree temperatures are possible. But humidity scales back quite a bit, making for a comfortable and pleasant summer day.
Expect mostly sunny skies and dry weather. Most highs will reach the upper 80s.
Thursday will not be a pleasant day as we stare down a one-day return of dangerous, near-record heat.
Most high temperatures are forecast to reach the mid to upper 90s on Thursday. 100 degree is not out of the question. With moderate to high humidity, the heat index will probably be in "the danger zone" in the lower triple digits. So it's a "take care of yourself" day — get the light-colored loose-fitting clothing and extra hydration ready to go.
A popup thunderstorm is possible around dinnertime Thursday. Given the juicy air, if a storm forms, it is likely to become strong or severe.
The Extended Forecast
The end of the week will bring our best chance for widespread soaking rain in some time. Models have sporadically spit out rainfall totals on the order of 1 to 2 inches. And boy do we need it.
Latest guidance scales back a bit on overall rainfall. And the timeline is still hazy. The GFS puts almost all of our showers and thunderstorms on Friday. But the Euro keeps rain chances in the forecast through much of the weekend too. We'll dial in those impacts more as the week goes on.
Amid the rain and clouds, temperatures will probably be held to near-normal mid 80s (give or take) through the first weekend of August.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.