The Bottom Line

Wednesday is not going to be a nice day. A powerful storm system has been charging across the country this week, dropping snow along the Rockies and tornadoes in the Deep South. Now it's New Jersey's turn.

A gusty wind (40+ mph) will accompany periods of rain (averaging a half-inch) throughout the daytime hours Wednesday. The wind is a big concern here, with a Wind Advisory posted for the immediate coast.

We will see improvements around dinnertime Wednesday, as rain ends, the wind calms (a little bit), and skies clear quickly.

Thursday and Friday will be clear and dry, but unseasonably cold. Our next two storm systems — coming Saturday and early next week — also look like exclusive rainmakers for the Garden State.

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Wednesday

An inclement weather day, to say the least. Do you need to fully batten down the hatches, seek shelter, and hunker down? Absolutely not. But you will want to stay "weather aware" — in tune with changing conditions — as things will get pretty nasty, peaking in the afternoon to early evening hours.

Let's run through some quick Q&A on this stormy forecast.

—When will the rain start? As of this writing (5:30 a.m.), radar is all clear. But rain is crawling toward New Jersey from the west. It looks like first showers will creep into western NJ around 7 a.m., filling in statewide by about 10 a.m. Periods of rain will last (and potentially get steadier and heavier) through the afternoon.

—When will the wind kick up? It will become breezy Wednesday morning. Things will turn even gustier starting around 10 or 11 a.m.

—How hard will the wind blow? Top gusts could reach about 40 mph across most of New Jersey. Closer to the coast, with a connection to stronger winds a mile overhead, 50 mph gusts are not out of the question.

—Wind Advisory The immediate coast — eastern Monmouth, eastern Ocean, eastern Atlantic, and eastern Cape May counties — fall under a Wind Advisory from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (For the record, I think that timing is spot on.) Wind gusts are expected to fall just under advisory criteria farther inland.

—Windy weather impacts? 40 mph winds are more than enough to thoroughly relocate garbage cans and holiday decorations, if they are not secured. Branches and trees may come down, leading to some property damage. Driving may be difficult, especially in high-profile vehicles. And sporadic power outages are possible.

—How much rain? Rain gauges should average a half-inch of fresh rainfall by the end of the day. A little more to the north, a little less to the south. That's healthy, but not heavy. Although there could be some downpours and rumbles of thunder (especially late-day).

—Any wintry weather? No. None. Not a chance. Way too warm for snow/ice in New Jersey.

—How warm will it get? Most high temperatures will reach the 50s Wednesday. Again, well above the freezing mark. South and coast, thermometers may even touch 60.

—Any coastal flooding concerns? There are a few tide gauges modeled to barely hit flood stage at high tide Wednesday afternoon. No significant, widespread coastal flooding is expected. But there could be some localized pockets of water — in the "usual" especially vulnerable spots.

—When will the rain end? As a strong cold front sweeps across the state, Steady rain will start to break apart and taper off starting around sunset (4 or 5 p.m.) I'll keep raindrops in the forecast through 7 or 8 p.m. Wednesday.

—When will the wind die down? Once the heavy rain simmers down, the fierce gusts will go away too. Again, I think the Wind Advisory gets it right — notable improvements will happen starting around 6 p.m. Wednesday evening.

—What happens Wednesday night? After the rain wraps up, the arrival of cold and dry air will make skies clear quickly. It's still going to be breezy overnight, adding a chilly bite to the air. Overnight low temperatures will dip to around the freezing mark, in the lower 30s. The wind chill ("feels like" temperature) could end up deep in the 20s by early Thursday morning.

Thursday

Blustery. That's the combination of cold and wind, that is usually pretty unpleasant.

We will see mostly sunny skies and dry weather Thursday. But high temperatures will only reach the lower 40s. Feeling like January again. Plus, with 20+ mph wind gusts, the wind chill may be stuck in the 30s at best throughout the day.

Definitely a "bundle up" kind of day.

Friday

A little better, especially since the wind will be considerably lighter. Highs should push into the upper 40s, under partly sunny skies.

Saturday

Our next storm system will dampen our spirits to start the weekend, but this one should not be an all-day washout.

Best chance of rain on Saturday will be from morning through midday. Once again, a bundle of warm air will accompany the rain, potentially pushing temperatures to near 60 degrees. Wind may be a factor on Saturday too, for at least a few hours.

Sunday & Beyond

Sunday will easily be the drier, sunnier day of the weekend. But also the colder day, as high temperatures retreat to the mid 40s.

Our next next storm system is scheduled to arrive early next week, with impacts centered on Tuesday. Yet again, it looks like all rain.

Beyond that weathermaker, there is a good chance for a deep cold air mass to penetrate most of the United States. That would set us up for potential snow by late next week. (Lots of ifs and unknowns there, but we're always scanning the horizon this time of year.)

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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