UPDATE 2:00pm: A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 9:00pm this evening. The Storm Prediction Center suggests severe thunderstorms are possible, capable of producing strong winds, small hail, and dangerous lightning. Stay tuned for updates including any severe thunderstorm or flood related warnings. The latest information on the severe thunderstorm watch can be found here.
Heat Advisories were issued by the National Weather Service for much of New Jersey on Wednesday, as heat is expected to build throughout the area once again. Rising dew points are only adding to the issue — as they will create a much muggier, more oppressive airmass than the past few days this week. Heat index values are expected to rise well into the 90’s and possibly come close to 100 in some spots later this afternoon. Any time dew points rise into the mid 70’s while temperatures are in the mid 90’s — the air will be quite heavy.
In addition to the oppressive heat, strong to severe thunderstorms are possible this afternoon. The Storm Prediction Center has placed the area in a “Slight Risk” for severe thunderstorms, indicating a risk of small hail and strong winds. In addition to those threats, heavy rain and frequent lightning would be likely in any thunderstorms that develop. We encourage you to stay tuned throughout the day for updates on the developing thunderstorms and hazardous weather threat. In addition, stay hydrated and avoid prolonged outdoor exposure.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Arthur strengthened overnight off the coast of Florida. Arthur is forecast to turn northward today, and pass very near the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday morning. The shores of North Carolina could experience Hurricane conditions as the storm passes near — and in fact a Hurricane Watch is in effect for parts of that area. The good news back home is that an incoming trough and cold front have trended a bit faster this weekend. This will help to kick Arthur eastward a bit — and the storms track won’t curl as close to the Mid Atlantic coast. Heavy rain and wind are expected to stay offshore — as are coastal concerns such as surge and wind.
Still, the frontal boundary near the area could get an extra boost from tropical moisture and lift. This is known meteorologically as a PRE, where the jet stream orientation helps to allow for heavy rains well in advance or to the northwest of a tropical system. Forecast models continue to hint at this potential — but pinning down the exact location of it will be difficult. If it does end up near our area, heavy rain would be likely for a period of time from Thursday into Friday morning before the system shifts eastward.
The implications on our Independence Day forecast are obviously high — so stay tuned as we continue to gather more information. It looks likely that regardless of the outcome, things should clear up by Friday Night. So at this range, firework displays don’t look like a washout. More updates later today.