No escaping a sultry, sweaty heat wave

July 22, 2013 - 8:09pm -- Dan Manzo

Garden State residents suffered through another heat wave last week, and at times it seemed like the unrelenting heat would never subside. A heat wave is unofficially defined as three or more consecutive days with the maximum temperature at or over 90°. This heat wave lasted seven days for many areas and furthermore, very high dew points (a measure of moisture in the air) made the heat index soar above 105°.

The heat wave began for many on Sunday, July 14, with stations in central and northeast Jersey, such as Haworth, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Howell, and Toms River all recording high temperatures in the low 90°s. Hawthorne was the hottest spot with a high temperature of 94°. Other stations recorded high temperatures in the upper 80°s. This combined with widespread dew points above 70° resulted in heat indices at or near 100°.

Relief was nowhere in sight. Monday and Tuesday (July 15 and 16) were generally warmer across the state. Almost every station in the NJWxNet recorded high temperatures above 90°, with the hottest spots once again located along or near the Turnpike corridor. Berkeley Twp., Jersey City, and Hawthorne all recorded temperatures of 96°. Dew points in some locations once again reached the upper 70°s, with an 80° dew point recorded in both Howell and Hamilton. Heat indices in these areas reached 105°. While most stations on the following Tuesday recorded similar temperatures, dew points during the afternoon were slightly lower overall with stations in central Jersey reporting low 70°s.

On Wednesday, July 16, stations were roughly the same or slightly warmer, with New Brunswick recording a 98° high temperature. Throughout the state, numerous stations were recording temperatures at or around 95°. There was little relief at the shore, with many stations coming close to or surpassing the 90° mark. Perhaps the emerging story of this heat wave began on this day with dew points in the upper 70°s and even low 80°s in at a few locations. Heat index values in interior New Jersey including stations such as Jackson and Cherry Hilly ranged from the low 100°s to as high as 105°, making this heat wave increasingly uncomfortable and dangerous to human health.

With no relief on Thursday and Friday, temperatures once again hit the mid to upper 90°s for just about everybody. The hot spots were Point Pleasant and Newark Airport with highs of 100°. Most impressive on these days were the extraordinarily high dew points. Afternoon dew points approached the upper 70°s for some, and stations such as South Harrison, Hamilton Twp, and Cherry Hilly saw dew points pass the 80° mark. Heat index values in much of central New Jersey ranged from 105° to as high as around 115°.

The final day of this sultry heat wave was Saturday, July 20. Temperatures lowered, but remained in the mid 90°s with some of the highest temperatures being recorded along the shore. Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, and Seaside Heights all recorded temperatures in the mid 90s. Although dew points moderated back down into the lower 70°s, many stations still had heat indices approaching 100 degrees or higher.

How does this heat wave affect our July average temperatures and how can we put this prolonged event in perspective? Check out the July narrative coming in the beginning of August 2013.