The Bottom Line

Morning lows in the teens. Afternoon highs in the lower 20s. Wind chills in the single digits for most of the day. Dew points near 0.

Once or twice every year, we end up talking about an intrusion of arctic air and a burst of extreme cold. And here we are. We're not breaking any records, but the temperatures in Tuesday's forecast are definitely unseasonable and uncomfortable. It is ridiculously dry too.

For those already shivering from the cold, you'll be happy to know this chill will only last a day. Temperatures will moderate Wednesday into Thursday to more seasonable levels.

But don't get used to the warmup. Another visit from arctic air will cause temperatures to tumble for Friday and the weekend.

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There's still a dearth of precipitation in this chilly, dry forecast. Models paint our next chance for a substantial storm system at the end of the weekend, at the earliest.

Tuesday

I'm not going to insult your intelligence by rattling off a list of cold weather safety tips. Bundle up and take it seriously. This is not your "normal" New Jersey winter kind of cold.

Look for sunny skies and dry weather across New Jersey on Tuesday. With highs in the lower 20s, we're stuck almost 20 degrees below normal for mid-January. With wind gusts topping 20 mph regularly through the morning, the biting wind chill will be in the single digits.

Frigid 6 a.m. temperatures (left) and wind chills (right) across New Jersey. (NJ Weather Network @ Rutgers)
Frigid 6 a.m. temperatures (left) and wind chills (right) across New Jersey. (NJ Weather Network @ Rutgers)
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Remember, that "wind chill" is an important measure of human health - it's not just the "feels like" temperature. The wind chill illustrates how dangerous the combination of cold and wind are. Your body loses much more heat when it's windy, compared to a non-windy day. So that's why it's important and relevant.

The wind will calm noticeably from Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday evening.

So Tuesday night will be "just cold," not windy. Lows will once again descend into the 20s, under clear skies.

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Wednesday

Better. Slightly warmer. Highs will pop to around 40 degrees. (Maybe even as warm as 45 in South Jersey.)

We'll keep sunshine through the morning, before clouds build in the afternoon. No threat of precipitation on Wednesday. And winds will be manageable, blowing out of the southwest at 15+ mph.

Thursday

The warmest day of the week. Mid 40s, under mostly cloudy skies.

The NAM model is painting some persistent snow/rain showers developing around North Jersey on Thursday too. Meanwhile, the longer-range GFS and Euro favor a completely dry forecast. While I usually side with the consensus, the NAM can be eerily good at spitting out such small-scale features at the 48-hour mark. In a worst-case scenario (i.e. a snowy scenario), we could even see light accumulations in North Jersey. (On the order of a half-inch to an inch.)

Friday & Beyond

After two days of temperatures at or above normal, the fun ends on Friday as arctic air returns.

Friday's "high" temperature for the day will happen in the morning, somewhere between the upper 20s (north) and mid 30s (south). Then temperatures will tumble through the rest of the day, with a brisk 15 to 25 mph northwesterly wind.

The end result: Saturday could be just as cold and blustery as Tuesday. The deep freeze will continue for most of the state on Sunday too.

There is a storm system worth watching toward the tail-end of the weekend too. (MLK Day, by the way.) A coastal storm system digs to our south, and then parallels the coast. Some models (the GFS) shows it close enough to produce heavy snow over New Jersey. Others (the Euro) shows it far enough off-shore to be a complete miss here.

No sweat at five days out. If that system develops into "a thing" we'll start talking more serious details in another day or two.

Stay warm out there!

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