A frozen ground and near-freezing air temperatures present a perfect setup for freezing rain and a glaze of ice, just in time for Monday evening's rush hour.

30... 26... 20... 25... 23... 19... 20... 27... 30... 29... 18... 14... 18...

Those are your high temperatures at Newark Airport since December 26th. Thermometers have been stuck below freezing since about dinnertime on Christmas Day, for something like 324 hours. Finally we're going to crawl our way out of the frigid cold snap this week, but not without a hit of wintry weather too.

Monday morning is beginning with temperatures in the teens — still unseasonably cold, but at least we're not setting record lows like on Sunday morning. High temperatures for Monday are forecast to reach the lower to mid 30s. Not bad, but still below normal for early January. I expect a good portion of New Jersey to pop above freezing (but not everyone).

In addition, a weak storm system will push into the Garden State Monday afternoon, with light showers spreading from west to east through Monday evening. Usually, light showers wouldn't be a big deal — but I'm very concerned about the potential for freezing rain and icing.

Freezing Rain 20180108

Let's talk about freezing rain, which many New Jerseyans incorrectly believe is the same as "ice pellets" or "sleet". (It's not.) Freezing rain looks like rain and feels like rain, until the droplets hit a cold surface and freeze on contact.

Do you know of any cold surfaces outside right now? Of course — after two weeks of deep freeze, everything outside is frigid! And, with air temperatures at or just above freezing by Monday afternoon, I fear it presents a perfect setup for a period of freezing rain and a glaze of ice accretion (accumulation). It doesn't take much ice at all to make roadways and sidewalks very, very slippery.

Current advisories from the National Weather Service. Purple=Winter Weather Advisory
Current advisories from the National Weather Service. Purple=Winter Weather Advisory

Because of possible icing and messy road conditions during Monday evening's commute, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for central and southern New Jersey:
--From 1 p.m. to 9 p.m for northwestern Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, inland Monmouth, Salem, and Somerset counties.
--From 4 p.m. to Midnight for Atlantic, southeastern Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, coastal Monmouth, and counties.

The different county groups reflect the different timing for the wintry mix showers, which matches my thinking very well. Total snow/sleet accumulation will be less than a half-inch (mainly North Jersey), and total ice accumulation may be as high as 0.05".

Beyond Monday's burst of wintry weather, temperatures will skyrocket to 50 or even 60 degrees by the end of the week. Even though our weather will turn unsettled (read: wet) at the same time, the warmer temps are going to be glorious!

Skies will clear to sunshine by Tuesday morning, allowing high temperatures across the entire state to rise above-freezing and probably even above-normal, between about 40 and 45 degrees. It will be an incredibly welcome change of pace from the arctic chill of the past two straight weeks.

Wednesday will feature increasing clouds, and a few afternoon showers. (Those showers could bring some more light wintry mix to the Garden State.) High temperatures will once again end up in the lower to mid 40s for most of New Jersey.

The warmup continues on Thursday. Even though skies will be mostly cloudy, we can realistically look forward to highs in the upper 40s to lower 50s!

GFS model temperature forecast for late Friday, showing temps across NJ spiking to about 60 degrees. (College of DuPage Meteorology)
GFS model temperature forecast for late Friday, showing temps across NJ spiking to about 60 degrees. (College of DuPage Meteorology)

However, our weather takes a wet turn starting Thursday night, as a prolonged period of rain enters the forecast. Friday looks wet, although warm — thermometers could make a run for 60 degrees in South Jersey.

The rain chance wraps up Saturday, perhaps with a bit of snow or wintry mix at the very end. (I don't see any accumulation issues at this time.) More importantly, behind this slow-moving cold front, the door to the arctic will open once again.

Don't kill the messenger, but high temperatures for Sunday and beyond look to once again plummet to the 20s and 30s. Blech.

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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