Despite a general feeling amongst NJ residents that July 2014 was a cold summer month, in actuality, compared to long-term records, it was rather average. The statewide average temperature of 74.5° was 0.5° below the 1981-2010 mean. However, it was 0.3° above the 1895-present mean and ranked as the 45th warmest July of the past 119 years. Even the number of afternoons with temperatures of 90° or higher was close to normal. So why the common misperception? Some armchair psychology brings me to four possibilities:
1) The first half of the month was above average, while the more recent weeks were on the cool side. Our perceptions are biased toward the most recent.
2) People have yet to “recover" from the cold start of 2014. The dubious media ramblings of the “polar vortex" returning to the eastern US in mid-July fueled these thoughts.
3) The most recent four NJ Julys all rank in the top six for warmth over the past 119 years. This was an amazing run of hot Julys.
4) Those sticking their toes in the Jersey surf in early July were shocked by water temperatures in the 50°s and may have equated this to the cool July atmosphere. The cold surf was actually indicative of persistent southerly winds that brought atmospheric warmth. This wind flow led to coastal upwelling that pushed warmer surface waters offshore and introduced cool deeper waters to the surf zone.