The Bottom Line

The weather certainly became dramatic on Thursday, as a cold front swept through tropical rainfall, intense lightning, and damaging winds.

The worst weather is behind us now. But we are going to start the 4th of July weekend with a showery, unsettled, humid, cloudy, cool forecast.

Here's the good news: It's not going to be a sog-fest, like the Memorial Day Weekend was. In fact, the deeper we go into the holiday weekend, the drier, brighter, and more pleasant our weather conditions will get.

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Friday the 2nd

As I write this (7 a.m. Friday), there are some showers and sprinkles moving through coastal and southern New Jersey. I think we'll face two or three more waves of showers throughout Friday morning, afternoon, and evening. There could be some heavier patches of rain with rumbles of thunder, especially late-day. Total additional rainfall will probably end up around a quarter-inch to half-inch.

Meanwhile, skies will stay cloudy. And temperatures will rise from 70 in the morning to almost 80 degrees for a high. Also, our new air mass behind Thursday's cold front really isn't that dry. So it's still relatively humid, with dew points in the mid 60s. (Sticky, not steamy.)

Fireworks Forecast... With on and off showers expected, squeezing in a BBQ or fireworks extravaganza on Friday could be a challenge. Not impossible - but you'd have to get lucky, and the ground will still be soaked no matter what.

Saturday the 3rd

Better, but not perfect. Clearly on the backside of this storm system complex, we could see one or two little batches of showers come through. I do not expect anything heavy or thunderstorm-ish this time around.

Most precipitation should occur from morning through midday. (Although a couple models do put some rain over New Jersey as late as Saturday evening.) Another tenth of an inch of precipitation could end up in the bucket by the end of the day.

Saturday will also be the coolest day of the week, as thermometers struggle to go past the mid 70s. That's akin to a typical late April-early May day. (Or mid-late September, if you prefer the fall analogy.) With dew points descending into the 50s, the air should feel drier and more comfortable.

Fireworks Forecast... I still think it's a "game day decision". There's a good chance your late afternoon or evening BBQ soiree will stay dry - but unfortunately it's not a guarantee. Similarly, at fireworks time, the chance for rain in any given spot in NJ is fairly low, but not zero.

Sunday the 4th

I am still leaning toward very positive improvements for the 4th of July on Sunday. Partly sunny and 80? Heck yeah!

Skies could still be unsettled at times, with some extra clouds and maybe even a spot shower. But I still think it will be a pleasant day, with a light southerly breeze and comfortable humidity levels.

Fireworks Forecast... The best chance of the entire weekend. Minimal rain chance and scattered clouds. Temperature will be around 70 degrees at 9 p.m.

Monday the 5th

Heat starts to build again, but not to ridiculous levels. Just like Sunday, it looks like a mainly dry day, with a mix of sun and clouds. High temperature will be just above normal, in the mid to upper 80s. Probably the best beach day of the bunch.

Fireworks Forecast... Anyone ending the weekend with a "bang" or exercising a Monday rain date should do very well. It will be a nice, warm, summery evening.

The Extended Forecast

90s return for Tuesday and Wednesday. Not sure it's going to reach heat wave criteria (three days in a row), but it's definitely going to be hot and humid.

The internet is going nuts over Tropical Storm Elsa, which will enter the eastern Caribbean Sea on Friday and turn north toward Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba in the coming days.

The forecast track for Tropical Storm Elsa, as of early Friday morning. (NOAA / NHC)

However:
1.) While the west coast of Florida could be next, that 96 hour (4 day) forecast is still highly uncertain. One little wiggle in the storm track could result in a very different direction.
2.) Models show Elsa will flirt with hurricane strength as it enters the warm Gulf of Mexico. But the center is expected to stay largely over land, with a lot of topography getting in the way. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center does keep it below 74 mph for the duration.
3.) Potential impacts on New Jersey are even more uncertain. The storm could end up in our neighborhood late next week, around the 9th or 10th. If it comes close enough, there could be some rain and wind concerns. If it ends up anywhere near the Jersey Shore, rough surf and rip currents would occur. Lots of ifs there.

In other words, Elsa is charging into the unknown. Still worth watching, still a wait and see scenario.

I hope you have a wonderful, fun, relaxing, safe holiday weekend. Unless something changes dramatically, the CMDZ weather blog will return on Tuesday, July 6th.

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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