There will be a few bumps in the road for Christmas-weekend travelers, with wild temperatures swings, some rain, and some snow in the forecast.

It's one of the most important forecasts of the year! And it looks very, very interesting. Here's what to expect, day-by-day, as the countdown to Christmas ticks along...

Friday: A Few Showers

NAM model rain forecast for Friday, showing minimal, widely spread showers throughout the Garden State. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

A weak storm system is swinging north of New Jersey, bringing some pre-Christmas snow to parts of Upstate New York and New England. Back here in the good ol' Garden State, we'll see mostly cloudy skies overhead and a few raindrops. But those showers will be light and widely scattered, so I think you can skip the umbrella.

Meanwhile, we're warming up Friday, with forecast high temperatures in the upper 40s to lower 50s (for all but Far North Jersey, which will top out closer to 40 degrees). That is above normal for late December, by 5 to 10 degrees.

I have to keep showers in the forecast through Friday night too, but again it's all rain. Thermometers will only dip a few degrees overnight, with low temps in the lower to mid 40s.

Saturday: Wet and Mild

NAM model rain forecast for Saturday evening, probably the wettest point of the entire weekend. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

A new day, a new storm system. Another batch of rain will aim for New Jersey on Saturday. Periods of rain are specifically expected in the morning and late afternoon/evening hours. Given the relative warmth and the potential for moderate to heavy rain, don't be surprised to hear a few rumbles of thunder. Having said that, while the day will be pretty wet at times, it's certainly not going to rain or pour all day.

High temperatures will once again end up well above normal, but I have scaled back the forecast as model temps have trended downward. I now believe 60s will be limited to South Jersey, with (still mild) mid to upper 50s through the rest of the state.

Christmas Eve (Sunday): Cooler but Quiet

Sunday looks like the quietest weather day of the holiday weekend, with only lingering showers in the early morning hours and a chance of an evening snow shower. Otherwise, we will see a few breaks of sunshine on Christmas Eve, as temperatures cool down to more seasonable levels in the mid 40s.

Christmas Day (Monday): Snow/Rain, then Cold

As I mentioned earlier this week, our last widespread White Christmas in New Jersey occurred in 2009. I don't think we're going to hit the technical definition of a White Christmas everywhere this year — that requires an inch of snow on the ground on Eve or Day. But part of the state very well might, and magical Christmas snowflakes will be possible through all 21 counties of New Jersey.

Both the GFS and NAM have come around to what the Euro (and I) have been saying all week — a weak storm system will pass over New Jersey on Christmas. And temperatures will be cold enough for snow for at least northern New Jersey. Best timing for this storm system will be from 10 p.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday.

GFS model precipitation type forecast for Monday morning (Christmas Day). At least a few snowflakes will be possible everywhere in New Jersey. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

The area of New Jersey north of Interstate 78 and west of the NJ Turnpike will likely see all snow, potentially leading to an inch or two of fresh snow accumulation on the ground by Christmas morning. A coating of snow is possible as far south as Interstate 195. South Jersey and the coast will most likely see rain to start — but as temperatures drop below freezing right around sunrise Monday, there could be a brief period of snowflakes (but no accumulation).

Again, very interesting. In terms of impacts, I have concerns of slippery roads and airport delays for the holiday. But again, not a major storm, so no major prolonged problems are expected.

Next Week

GFS model temperature forecast for Monday afternoon (Christmas day). Highs only in the 30s? Brrr! (College of DuPage Meteorology)

The other big story for Christmas week will be some cold air. Some very cold air. High temperatures on Christmas Day will be limited to the mid to upper 30s for most of New Jersey. And we'll probably be limited to the 30s at best for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday too.

Both the GFS and Euro models show our next storm system will arrive around next Friday — as of this writing, that's still 8 days away. Still plenty of time for this system and this forecast to evolve. Could be something significant, could turn into nothing. If I had to make a call right now, we'd be talking about moderate to major snowfall across most of the state. Stay tuned.

The weather blog will return on Tuesday the 26th. Until then, I hope you and yours have a safe, fun holiday!

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