The thermometer roller coaster continues across the Garden State, with a potentially active forecast for the Christmas holiday weekend.

Autumn is a season of change and tumultuous weather. Winter is a season of fairly consistent cold. We find ourselves in the middle of this seasonal change, with some volatile weather flips as Christmas approaches.

As of this writing, we've already hit our high temperature for Wednesday — temps were still in the 50s just after Midnight. Colder air is now arriving, and temperatures are falling fast. We should see 30s take over the temperature map by around 8 a.m. Wednesday, before recovering to the lower to mid 40s by Wednesday afternoon. Our wind has shifted from southwesterly to northwesterly, with gusts likely peaking around 20 mph throughout the day. Skies will be mostly cloudy for most of Wednesday, with clearing skies by late afternoon.

And then we'll experience a clear, crisp, and cold December night. Lows will dip into the mid 20s for most — thermometers may drop into the teens in NJ's coldest spots.

Winter officially begins at 11:28 a.m. Thursday, and I'd say our weather forecast is appropriately chilly. High temperatures will get stuck around 40 degrees, despite mostly sunny skies. That's slightly below normal for this time of year. Winds will be light, and our weather (and air) will be dry.

Overall, this cold snap won't be all that aggressive, and will not last very long. On Friday, highs bounce back into the upper 40s to around 50 degrees across New Jersey. Clouds will quickly increase Friday. The NAM model paints some showers over at least part of New Jersey, so I've included a slight chance of showers in the forecast (but I'm not totally convinced). There are even hints of some wintry mix in North Jersey during Friday evening's commute (again, not convinced — my current thinking is that it will be too warm for any snow or ice). Might be nothing, might turn into something — still worth watching.

Saturday still looks warm, but wet. As a cold front approaches Saturday morning, showers will overtake the northern half of New Jersey. As the front makes its big push later Saturday, a period of steady rain is likely across the entire state. With high temps in the 60s for the majority of the Garden State, it's all rain.

In Tuesday's weather blog, I mentioned this front would stall just south of New Jersey, providing a continued focus for showers on Christmas Eve (Sunday) and Christmas Day (Monday). The latest GFS keeps the front moving, erasing rain chances from Christmas Eve, and significantly decreasing the chance for precipitation on Christmas Day too. Temperatures have trended cooler as a result of this flip.

I think it's important to note the Euro model still has that storm system over New Jersey Christmas morning, along with cooler temperatures. That's a combination that could actually lead to accumulating snow on Christmas. Keep in mind, this is now the outlier solution, but one that could very well play out.

So the Christmas forecast continues to be complicated and fluid. There are basically three scenarios that could play out for Eve and Day:
--Nothing (latest GFS forecast): Front doesn't stall, and both Christmas Eve and Day would be dry but chilly.
--Rain (original consensus forecast): Front stalls, putting showers over NJ on Christmas Eve and a period of steadier rain early Christmas morning. Some snowflakes would be possible in northern New Jersey, but accumulation would be unlikely.
--Snow/Rain (latest Euro forecast): Christmas Eve actually stays dry in this scenario, but early Christmas morning would see a mix of rain and snow. If it's cold enough and snowy enough, an inch or two of accumulation would be possible, especially in NW NJ. Snowflakes could creep through the rest of northern and central NJ too.

While meeting the technical "White Christmas" definition (1+ inch of snow on the ground) is now unlikely, the forecast remains interesting. I fully realize how many New Jerseyans will have to plan travel by road, rail, and air — we should be able to firm up this forecast by the beginning of the holiday weekend.

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