Another warming trend kicks in this week, but heavy rain may lead to some travel headaches as Christmas approaches.

Here are your weather headlines for Monday, December 21, 2015...

Happy Winter Solstice! Or not ...

Winter officially begins at 11:48 p.m. EST tonight. Despite the taste of chilly air New Jersey experienced this weekend, it is certainly not going to feel like winter this week.

An influx of very warm air will bump Monday's high temperatures well above late December normals. This afternoon, thermometers should climb to the mid 50s in North Jersey and upper 50s in South Jersey. 60 degrees isn't out of the question today!

The warming trend will continue as Christmas Eve approaches too. Lower 60s on Tuesday... Mid 60s on Wednesday... And the "heat" peaks on Thursday (Christmas Eve) with South Jersey highs in the lower 70s! Record highs are a pretty sure bet on Thursday... Current records are 64, 63, and 65 degrees at Newark, Trenton, and Atlantic City respectively.

Two Rounds of Rain

While social media is abuzz with talk of this upcoming record warmth for Christmas, this week's rain could be pretty significant as well, especially as thousands of New Jerseyans and millions of Americans prepare to travel for the holiday.

A few showers will be possible on Monday and Monday night, but we are going to keep a mostly dry forecast between now and early Tuesday morning.

The first real round of rain is expected on Tuesday, between about 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. I don't think it's going to be a true "washout" as most of Tuesday's rain should stay on the light side. A few pockets of steadier rainfall will be possible around midday.

Wednesday looks to be the wettest day of the week, as a warm front lifts through the state. Pockets of moderate to heavy rain are expected between about 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Wednesday, making for potentially messy roads for the busy holiday rush. Embedded thunderstorms are possible, especially in the (warmer, more humid) southern half of the state. Widespread severe weather is not expected.

So, bottom line, everyone in New Jersey is prone to see some solid rainfall this week. Rainfall totals between now and Thursday morning are expected to fall in the 0.4" to 2.2" range across the state.

Christmas Forecast

Thursday is Christmas Eve, and the holiday could start with a stray shower. In general, I think we'll (finally) see a few breaks in the clouds for Christmas Eve, just in time for temperatures to peak. Forecast high temperatures on Thursday fall between 67 and 74 degrees for New Jersey... That would be almost 30 degrees above normal for late December! As I mentioned, records could very well get smashed.

Christmas Day will start warm, with calendar day high temperatures reaching the mid to upper 60s (at least). But a cold front will cause temperatures to fall a bit through Friday afternoon into the post-holiday weekend.

Model temperatures for Friday and beyond admittedly get a bit hazy, which makes it difficult to present a confident forecast here. So far, we're very comfortable with the forecast through Christmas Day, but I'm going to hold precise details for the weekend until we get some additional resolution.

Dan Zarrow is the 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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