The second half of the 2016 NJ weather and climate year began with plenty to talk about. Maximum temperatures were 90° or higher somewhere in the state on 20 afternoons. This, along with many warm nights, helped boost the mean monthly temperature into the top 10, based on statewide records back to 1895. Yet, remarkably, this was only NJ’s 5th warmest July in the past 11 years. The 77.2° mean was 2.2° above the 1981–2010 average.
On 15 July days an inch or more of rain fell somewhere in NJ. This included eight days with greater than 2” in spots and four days where a few locations exceeded 4”. Statewide, the average rainfall was 6.85”. This was 2.33” above average and ranks as the 14th wettest July since 1895. It was the wettest July since 2004, and the 4th wettest in the past 41 years. The northern half of the state (Mercer/Somerset/Union northward) averaged 7.27” (+2.49”, 14th wettest), while the southern region averaged 6.77” (+2.38”, 12th wettest). This all came in a month where the northern half of the state remained classified as being in moderate drought (D1) on the US Drought Monitor, with about half of south Jersey considered abnormally dry (D0). Also, on July 26th the NJ Department of Environmental Protection placed the northern half of the state in a drought watch. These actions were the result of notable rainfall deficits dating back to the early spring, with the warmth of the month exasperating low soil moisture, stream flow, ground water, and reservoir conditions. Clearly, the late-month heavy rainfall in a good portion of the state warrants a re-evaluation of drought status as NJ heads into August.