Slight risk of severe thunderstorms throughout NJ Thursday

     A strong thunderstorm heading over Seaside Park in July 2013. (Photo: Justin Auciello/Jersey Shore Hurricane News)

    A strong thunderstorm heading over Seaside Park in July 2013. (Photo: Justin Auciello/Jersey Shore Hurricane News)

    Severe thunderstorms are possible throughout New Jersey Thursday, forecasters say. 

    The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has placed the state within the “slight risk” category for severe weather.

    “A slight risk is issued when organized severe thunderstorms are possible. In this case, there is a 15 percent chance of gusty winds or hail within 25 miles of any point within the slight risk area,” said John Homenuk, lead forecaster at New York Metro Weather

    There are multiple factors fueling the threat, according to Homenuk.

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    “A nearby frontal boundary, developing instability, and favorable shear in the mid and low levels of the atmosphere are expected to combine to support the development of some thunderstorms later this afternoon — those are things we know,” he said, adding that daytime heading and some instability “will lead to sufficient lift to develop thunderstorms during the afternoon hours.”

    The wildcard is how unstable the atmosphere becomes, Homenuk said, which “as always, will be contingent upon daytime heating and some sunshine.”

    During the afternoon hours, forecast models show storms developing over northeastern Pennsylvania and moving southeastward through much of New Jersey, according to Homenuk.

    “The storms will be capable of producing heavy rain, frequent lightning, and even some hail and gusty winds. Eventually, they will weaken and lessen in areal coverage as daytime heating is lost and the convergence zone sinks southward,” he said.

    But the threat is more limited in immediate coastal areas.

    “Cooler marine air will become entrained during the late morning to afternoon hours. As a result of the south/southeasterly winds off cooler ocean waters, the severe weather threat is likely to be very low to minimal across these areas,” Homenuk said. 

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