The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for all 21 counties in New Jersey and has begun to issue some urgent warnings in parts of the state, saying conditions are favorable for brief but intense storms with damaging winds and heavy downpours developing Wednesday afternoon.
The watch, issued shortly before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, is effective until 6 p.m. and also includes parts of eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, along with New York City.
A strong cold front originating from the Great Lakes region is drifting across the Garden State, with a line of thunderstorms forming along the front, forecasters from the National Weather Service said.
Some thunderstorms began popping up in eastern Pennsylvania around noon and have started moving into western sections of New Jersey as of 12:30 p.m. The storms are expected to move offshore around 4 or 5 p.m., forecasters said.
Some of the storms — including one that has prompted a severe thunderstorm warning in Warren County — could generate destructive wind gusts of 60 mph or stronger, along with small hail and brief heavy downpours. The Warren County warning remains in effect until 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.
UPDATE (12:55 p.m.): A new thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of Sussex and Warren counties, effective until 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The weather service says those areas can expect gusts up to 60 mph, along with hail as large as 1 inch in diameter.
Also, a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for most of Hunterdon County and northwestern sections of Warren County, effective until 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.
UPDATE (1:15 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem counties, effective until 2 p.m. Wednesday.
UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): The National Weather Service says a line of strong thunderstorms will affect Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, eastern Warren and northwestern Mercer through 2:15 p.m. Those storms are moving northeast at a pace of about 30 mph. “Wind gusts up to 50 mph and penny-size hail are possible with these storms,” the weather service says in a special weather statement.
UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): The National Weather Service says a line of strong thunderstorms will affect Passaic County, northern Bergen County and northwestern Essex County now through about 2:30 p.m. with wind gusts up to 50 mph and pea-size hail.
UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer counties, effective until 2 p.m., because of a storm cell that is producing wind gusts as strong as 60 mph and quarter-size hail.
UPDATE (1:45 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris and Somerset counties, effective until 2:45 p.m., because of a storm cell that is producing wind gusts as strong as 60 mph and quarter-size hail.
UPDATE (1:45 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for parts of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties, effective until 2:45 p.m., because of a storm cell that is producing wind gusts as strong as 60 mph and quarter-size hail.
UPDATE (2:10 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for eastern Morris County and northeastern Somerset County, effective until 2:45 p.m.
UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for northwestern Ocean County and south-central Monmouth County, effective until 2:45 p.m.
UPDATE (2:35 p.m.): A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for southwestern Atlantic, northeastern Cumberland, southeastern Gloucester and southeastern Salem counties, effective until 3 p.m. Also, a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for eastern Monmouth County and northeastern Ocean County, effective until 3:15 p.m.
UPDATE (4:30 p.m.): All thunderstorm watches and warnings in New Jersey have been canceled, now that the storms have moved offshore.
Among the storm reports coming in to the National Weather Service so far are quarter-size hail (1 inch in diameter) in Millville in Cumberland County and Berkeley Township in Ocean County, and penny-sized hail (almost three-quarters of an inch) in Lawrenceville in Mercer County.
Pea-sized hail (a quarter-inch in diameter) was reported in Chester, Morris Township and Whippany in Morris County, Sparta in Sussex County, Helmetta in Middlesex County, Neptune in Monmouth County, and Barnegat, Manahawkin and Seaside Heights in Ocean County.
Current weather radar
Freeze warning issued for cold blast
After the thunderstorms move away, temperatures are expected to start falling sharply as cold air from the north and west sweeps in, setting up a cold night with readings near or below freezing in parts of northern and central New Jersey.
It will be cold enough that a freeze warning will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m Thursday in Sussex, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon and Somerset counties. A freeze warning has also been issued for Passaic County and western Bergen County, effective from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Freeze conditions will kill crops, other sensitive vegetation and possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing,” the National Weather Service’s New York regional office noted in its freeze warning.
Homeowners in the warning areas are advised to cover or move tender outdoor plants until temperatures warm up.
“To prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes, they should be wrapped, drained, or allowed to drip slowly,” the weather service says. “Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain them and cover above-ground pipes to protect them from freezing.”
Top wind gusts reported across N.J.
- 63 mph at Atlantic City Airport, Atlantic County
- 62 mph in Beach Haven, Ocean County
- 62 mph in Mystic Island, Ocean County
- 58 mph in Fortescue, Cumberland County
- 54 mph in Atlantic City Marina, Atlantic County
- 54 mph in Millville, Cumberland County
- 52 mph at High Point Monument, Sussex County
- 48 mph in North Wildwood, Cape May County
- 47 mph in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County
- 46 mph in Cape May, Cape May County
- 46 mph in Pohatcong, Warren County
- 45 mph at Newark Liberty Airport, Essex County
- 45 mph in Ocean City, Cape May County
- 45 mph in Pennsauken, Camden County
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.