Most of New Jersey will top 70 degrees Friday
The Garden State's days of unseasonable, record-breaking warmth are numbered, with rain and a cooldown coming over the weekend.
After the fog lifted on Thursday, temperatures soared for most of New Jersey. The state's hot spot was an impressive 76 degrees at Sicklerville, Camden County, according to the NJ Weather Network.
The lack of fog on this Friday morning provides high confidence that temperatures will be at least as warm as on Thursday. Therefore, I have no doubt that most of New Jersey will reach 70+ degrees for Friday afternoon. We'll enjoy a nice mix of sun and clouds alongside the near-record temps. (Records highs for February 24 are 73 at Newark, 74 at Trenton, and 75 at Atlantic City airports.)
However, there is a notable exception to this pleasantly warm forecast. Winds on Friday will blow from the south-southeast. Ah, the dreaded on-shore flow. This sea breeze, combined with fog and low clouds, will keep coastal areas significantly cooler. Thermometers along the oceanfront may be stuck in the 50s all day long. Still mild for late February, but the Jersey Shore will be nowhere near record warmth.
Clouds will increase Friday night, and once again patchy fog will be possible. Overnight low temperatures will be warm once again, bottoming out in the lower 50s — still more than 20 degrees above normal.
We will squeeze out one more warm day on Saturday, with forecast highs ranging from around 60 degrees in North Jersey and along the coast, to the upper 60s for inland South Jersey. Skies will be mostly cloudy to overcast. And a brisk southeasterly wind, up to 25 mph, will certainly be noticeable all day.
It's a pretty good forecast for this year's Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights. While the air will be warm, the water will be chilly — ocean temperatures are currently in the lower 40s.
The end of this warm streak will be marked by a strong cold front marching toward New Jersey late Saturday. That front will likely spawn a line of showers and thunderstorms, which will push across the Garden State from west to east. The best storm timing still looks like 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Expect a quick burst of rain, with dangerous lightning and/or gusty winds possible. In fact, the Storm Prediction Center has placed the southern 2/3 of New Jersey into a "Marginal Risk" for severe thunderstorms on Saturday — that's the lowest of 5 severe risk categories.
A gusty west-northwest wind will pick up Saturday night, causing temperatures to tumble. Sunday morning will end up in the 30s for most of New Jersey. High temperatures for Sunday afternoon will be limited to the mid 40s. While skies will clear to partial sunshine (at least), a brisk wind will continue through the day.
The forecast for next week gets a bit muddled, due to divergence among the models. Thanks to a shift back to southwesterly winds, Monday will recover to about 50 degrees with partly sunny skies — pretty nice. The warming trend continues through Tuesday and Wednesday, despite daytime rain chances for both days.
Long-range models are still trending colder for the first half of March, which is a notoriously snowy period for New Jersey. The bottom line here regarding potential cold and snow: There's still plenty of winter left. If temperatures turn cold as we approach the first weekend of March, significant snow will absolutely remain on the table. If not, we'll be talking seriously about an early transition to Spring.