The Bottom Line
We'll catch a 36 to 48 hour stretch of mainly dry and mild weather, lasting through the rest of 2021. But rain will return soon enough — the precursor to a big transition by next week.
Thursday will progress from wet to dry. Friday is still looking good, and could be our warmest New Year's Eve in at least a decade. On Saturday, we'll kick off 2022 by getting soaked. And then the chance of rain will eventually transition to windy, colder weather on Sunday.
For the third morning in a row, we're waking up to damp and dreary conditions across New Jersey. As of this writing (5:30 a.m.), the wettest part of the day is already behind us, as steady rain exits the coast. By 8 or 9 a.m., raindrops will be all done.
I think it's fair to call the rest of Thursday "mainly dry," although a few sprinkles or some patchy drizzle may hang around. Skies will be mostly cloudy to overcast. And temperatures stay on the mild side, reaching about 50 degrees (give or take) Thursday afternoon.
Thursday night, we could see one big problem: Dense fog. Given the abundant ground-level moisture and the mild temps, there could be pockets of very low visibility overnight. I wouldn't rule out a spot shower or some drizzle overnight too. Meanwhile, low temperatures will only drop a few degrees, into the mid 40s.
Friday (New Year's Eve)
As long as we don't get stuck in a "fog and drizzle trap" (i.e. the early morning dreary conditions hang on for most of the day), Friday is still looking good.
In fact, with high temperatures in the mid 50s, it will be our warmest New Year's Eve in at least a decade. (NYE 2011 also saw widespread 50s.)
Look for partly to mostly cloudy skies, light winds, and dry weather. Temperatures at Midnight should still be on the mild side, around the upper 40s.
While we are looking at a return to wet weather to kick off 2022, the majority of model guidance holds off raindrops until well after Midnight.
Saturday (New Year's Day)
Soaking wet. Period, full stop. A storm system will drive periods of rain through New Jersey from morning to night on Saturday. Rainfall totals will probably exceed an inch, especially across the southern half of the state. (Much needed, by the way.)
At least temperatures will still be on the mild side. Upper 50s to around 60 degrees for the 1st of January? That is almost 20 degrees above normal, close to record highs.
Sunday's forecast is tricky. The chance of rain will continue, although it looks more like showers than persistent, steady rain.
One forecast model — the GFS — is really loving a snowy scenario to end the weekend. Yes, we have a big cooldown in the forecast. But I think temperatures will start to tumble after precipitation ends. Besides, cold air is dry air (by definition) — so in a "strong cold front" setup like this, it is really difficult (but not impossible) to gets inches of accumulation. I would keep an ear and an eye on the forecast through the weekend, just in case things shift colder and more wintry.
High temperatures on Sunday should still hit 60 degrees. It will be breezy during the day.
And then thermometers will plummet into the 20s Sunday night. A gusty northwest wind will howl, possibly above 40 mph. Any leftover puddles from the earlier weekend rain could flash freeze by Monday morning. And I can't rule out some snow showers Sunday night.
Monday & Beyond
Wow. Back-to-school and back-to-work on Monday is going to be a frigid experience. Morning lows in the 20s. Afternoon highs barely to the freezing mark (32 degrees). A continuing chilly breeze. At least skies will become brilliantly sunny by midday.
Tuesday looks a little better, as the wind calms down. But still unseasonably cold with highs in the mid 30s. Again, sunshine will win the sky.
Partly sunny and 40-ish on Wednesday will be closer to normal for early January.
And then our attention turns to our next storm system potential, late next week. With the colder air firmly in place, there is a risk for some wintry weather. But there are a lot of if's embedded in that long-range forecast. Let's see how things play out over the next 10 days.