Even though temperatures will remain on the warm side for Thursday in the Garden State, bands of steady and/or heavy rain is expected for much of the day.

Here are your weather headlines for Thursday, December 17, 2015...

A New Rain

Thursday is looking like a wet day overall for New Jersey, as a low pressure system passing to our north drags a cold front over the state tonight.

Although we should escape the morning rush hour with dry weather, rain is expected to arrive by late morning. The steadiest, heavier rain of the day will spread through the entire state this afternoon and this evening. The rain will taper off to showers overnight before ending completely by Friday morning. Rainfall totals are expected to mostly finish in the 0.5" to 1.3" range... exact amounts for any given location will depend heavily on exactly where any torrential downpours set up.

After the rain clears out, we'll probably see some patches of dense fog through Friday morning.

Meanwhile, temperatures will be on the warm side, amidst the raindrops. Highs will range from the mid to upper 50s in North Jersey to the lower 60s in South Jersey today.

The Cold Strikes Back

Behind the rain will come the passage of a strong cold front, and that will open the door to our first taste of truly cold air this month. (It's still incredible just how consistently warm it's been recently!)

Skies will clear to partly sunny (at least) on Friday, with a stiff northwesterly breeze. Temperatures will probably fall for most of the day. with highs peaking around the lower 50s.

Thermometers will really bottom out on Saturday, and we'll experience the first only taste of cold air so far this December.. A widespread morning freeze will precede sunshine, a brisk wind, and an overall cold day. High temperatures will only make it to around the 40 degree mark... but that doesn't tell the whole story! As a westerly wind produces gusts as high as 40 mph, the wind chill or "feels like" temperature will dip into the 20s for most of the day.

Saturday's wind chill numbers would be cold even in the dead of winter. So hopefully you've got the winter coat, hat, scarf, and gloves ready to go!

Return of the Warmth

I'm pleased to say the frigid conditions won't last long, as abundant sunshine and lighter winds on Sunday allow temperatures to climb into the mid 40s. That's actually just above normal for late December.

The warming trend continues as we celebrate the Winter Solstice on Monday, with highs climbing into the lower 50s. Mid 50s are expected on Tuesday, and highs should approach 60 degrees on Wednesday.

Long-range models suggest near-record temperatures will be possible by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, late next week. However... Some rain is in the forecast too. Additionally, we're still 7-8 days away from the Christmas holiday.

Could we reach 70 degrees on Christmas? Yup. But it's really dangerous to hang a single temperature number as the forecast for Christmas at this time. The going trend is certainly leaning toward a healthy warmup next week, but models are not yet agreeing completely on just how warm it's going to get. Stay tuned, and keep the t-shirts handy?

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.