Back to work. Back to school. Back to reality! For those (like me) who are officially ending the holiday season on this Thursday, you'll be greeted by fair weather. Not for long though, as our first substantial storm system of the year is lurking right around the corner.

Thursday morning is clear, crisp, and definitely cold. Thanks to good radiative cooling conditions (clear sky, calm wind, dry air), temperatures have bottomed out in the 20s across most of the state. (Even some scattered teens out there too.)

Early sunshine will lead to increasing clouds through Thursday afternoon. (Even so, filtered sunshine will keep the day feeling bright and pleasant.) A stronger southwesterly breeze will kick up through the afternoon hours too, over 15 mph. High temperatures will be above-normal, in the upper 40s to lower 50s.

A warm front will serve as a highway for at least two bursts of precipitation through the start of the weekend. Temperatures will stay firmly above the freezing mark for the duration (highs in the 50s Friday and Saturday) — so it will be another bout of wet weather and nothing wintry.

Here is how I see the timeline of the rain playing out:

—9 p.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday... Scattered showers arrive in New Jersey from west to east.

—1 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday... Steady rain likely.

The NAM model forecast as of 4 a.m. Friday morning shows a solid block of rain over New Jersey. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

—10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday... Rain substantially breaks apart, with only spotty showers and low clouds around.

—10 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday... Steady rain returns.

The NAM model forecast as of 10 a.m. Saturday morning shows another solid block of rain over New Jersey. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

—1 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday... Transitioning to scattered showers, and then gradually tapering off overnight.

Rainfall totals from Thursday night into Friday are forecast to reach about a quarter-inch to a half-inch for most. Saturday looks somewhat wetter, again with a quarter-inch to a half-inch. There's a chance for a line of heavy rain at some point on Saturday, but model consensus on that piece of the puzzle is poor at best.

Behind the rain will come a cold front, passing from northwest to southeast Saturday night. That will put a definitive end to the rain, but also introduce a colder, drier air mass to New Jersey.

Sunday will be marked by a gusty westerly wind, possibly blowing to 40-45 mph at times. As our weather turns sunny and dry, temperatures will get stuck in the lower to mid 40s through Sunday afternoon. There could be a few (snow) showers around at some point on Sunday too.

As the wind calms down, Monday looks like a fine January day with sunshine and mid 40s. Tuesday too — partly sunny and mid 40s.

The middle of next week gets tricky, as the GFS and Euro models significantly diverge. The Euro shows a storm system to our north bringing in rain on Wednesday, but the GFS shows a dry solution. In any case, we will turn colder — highs may only reach the below-normal 30s Wednesday afternoon.

That'll do it for this first weather blog of 2020. Have a great day!

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