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Welcome to Spring! Mild, then chilly, then warm this week for NJ

The Vernal Equinox – the official start of Spring – occurs at 6:29 a.m. EDT Monday, with mild, pleasant, mostly dry weather expected for the first part of the week.

Here are your weather headlines for Monday, March 20, 2017…

Mild Start to Spring

We made it, New Jersey! As of 6:29 a.m. Monday, we can officially close the record books on Winter 2016-17! And, while Mother Nature doesn’t necessarily own a calendar, there is some climatological significance to the change of seasons. From this point forward, a major snow storm (6+ inches) becomes highly unlikely as the sun angle, day length, and large-scale temperature pattern become less conducive to widespread big snowfall.

We’ll begin the new workweek and the new season on a pleasant note. Monday morning is admittedly chilly, with temperatures mostly at or just below the freezing mark. So, the puddles left over from the weekend’s snow melt may have refrozen. Watch out for scattered icy spots on your morning commute.

Monday afternoon’s high temperatures will reach the lower 50s for most of New Jersey — that’s right on the normal high for the first day of Spring. The only exception will be the area of North Jersey that still has snow on the ground, where high temps will be limited to the mid to upper 40s on Monday.

Skies will be sunny for most of the day, with extra clouds encroaching by late afternoon. A storm system will try to dive out of the Great Lakes, through Pennsylvania, and into New Jersey later on. But our very dry atmosphere will cause this impulse to fizzle before it gets here.

A slightly more organized storm system will provide a quick hit of precipitation Monday night through early Tuesday morning. With low temperatures in the 30s, some wintry mix or snowflakes will be possible (especially in far North Jersey). But I expect mostly rain, if anything, from this one.

We dry out Tuesday morning, although I’m concerned thick clouds will persist through much of the day. Even so, this particular warming trend will peak Tuesday afternoon, with highs in the mid 50s. This will be our first widespread trip above normal since March 9.

Chilly Midweek

Colder air will arrive on a northwest wind starting Tuesday night. While a shower is possible early Wednesday morning (especially in South Jersey), this precipitation chance also looks minimal.

Despite a return to sunshine by Wednesday afternoon, a gusty northerly wind (to 35 mph) will limit high temperatures to the upper 30s to around 40 degrees at best.

Thursday will also be sunny, breezy, and cool, with highs mostly in the lower 40s.

Warming Up Again

The models have consistently hinted at substantially warmer temperatures for late this week. And that warmup still looks good!

As winds become southwesterly on Friday, high temperatures will recover to the upper 40s to lower 50s. I would go higher for this forecast, but a very cold morning will hold back eventual high temperatures.

On Saturday, I am forecasting highs in the lower to mid 60s. That is a conservative forecast, given mostly cloudy skies. If we see a few peeks of sunshine, I would not be surprised to see a leap toward 70 degrees for at least South Jersey.

Whether that warmup is here to stay is still up in the air. The first few weeks of Spring tend to be a “roller coaster” of sorts, and freezes and frosts will remain common through April. No matter what happens, Old Man Winter is headed for hibernation for another year!

Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter for the latest forecast and realtime weather updates.

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