Following another gorgeous weekend, a rainy day is ahead for New Jersey including a chance for heavy downpours, frequent lightning, and gusty winds.

UPDATE as of 2:15pm...

So far, the forecast as written below is trending well. Several locations across the state saw rainfall totals in the 1.50" to 2.00" range... quite impressive, and made for quite the disgusting morning.

Temperatures in South Jersey have already spiked into the lower 70s as expected. That, along with all the juicy moisture from this morning's rain, continues to concern me regarding the strong thunderstorms potential later. The high-resolution models have been a bit wishy-washy about whether the strongest storms will in fact affect New Jersey, or fizzle right at our border. It's still a very good idea to be vigilant, mainly from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. as the next round of storms could feature some gusty winds, frequent lightning, small hail, and more heavy downpours. The best chance for severe weather will be in SW New Jersey (along the Delaware River, south of Trenton)... although again, everyone should "keep an eye on the sky" tonight.

Original post as published this morning...

Here are your weather headlines for Monday, April 20, 2015...

Rain and Thunderstorms

Current weather radar

As of this writing, steady rain is already pushing into South Jersey and spreading northward. Unfortunately, the timing of this moderate to heavy rain is poor, as it coincides with the Monday morning rush hour. Because of the rain, a stiff wind, and most temperatures in the 40s, a jacket is probably necessary this morning. Overall, it’s going to be a wet day, so an umbrella would also be a very smart accessory today.

The Storm Prediction Center's Day 1 Outlook for today shows a Slight Risk of severe weather for the southern half of New Jersey. (NOAA/NWS/SPC)

By about Noon, we should see the steady rain tapering off and some sun will break through the clouds this afternoon. That will be especially true for the southern half of the state, particularly along the Delaware River. Not only will that sun help to warm our surface temperatures to the mid 60s to lower 70s, it will also warm up the atmosphere. This time of year, a warm, humid atmosphere is generally ripe for some loud thunderstorms.

Any storms are expected to develop by late afternoon, and could grow to strong or severe limits. That means the chance is there for heavy downpours, frequent lightning, gusty winds, and even small hail. (The Storm Prediction Center has posted a slight risk of a tornado just west of New Jersey.) The most likely location in the state for strong storms? Once again, the southern half of the state, particularly along the Delaware River.

To be clear, this afternoon's severe weather is not a sure bet - thunderstorm development will only happen given enough sunshine and warm enough temperatures (~70°). But it’s very important to stay vigilant and smart about changing weather conditions today.

One more round of powerful showers and thunderstorms is expected later tonight. After the rain fully tapers off overnight, we’ll be left with a pleasant and dry Tuesday.

Midweek Rain Chance

There won’t be much of a break in the wet weather, as rain is expected to return some time on Wednesday. There’s honestly low confidence in the timing, location, and especially intensity of this round of rain... But for now, it looks like widespread showers and thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon. We’ll be able to give better forecast detail tomorrow and Wednesday morning.

Thursday and Friday look dry.

Late Week Cooldown

In addition to the scattered rain chances, this week will bring a slow decline in temperatures. As long as the sun does shine in spots this afternoon, highs will climb to 70° or better along and south of I-195. That will make today the warmest day of the week ahead... but obviously not nearly as warm as Saturday’s temperatures in the lower 80s.

Tuesday’s dry air should help temperatures bump into the upper 60s for most of the state... but it won't be as warm as Monday.

Wednesday’s rain and cooler air will limit high temperatures to the lower to maybe mid 60s... not it won't be as warm as Tuesday.

And we close the workweek with another shot of cooler air on Thursday and Friday, holding statewide temperatures only to the 50s... the coolest days of the week, and 5 to 10 degrees below normal.

Overall, not a dramatic cool down, but probably enough to warrant wearing a jacket all day Thursday and Friday. And, if nights are cool enough, you may also need to flick the heater on again by the end of the week.