Record Warmth

More Like Virginia: February 2020 and Winter 2019/20 Recaps

March 3, 2020 - 10:57pm -- Dave Robinson

Controlled burn smoke photo

Following on the heels of the 8th mildest January on record, February 2020 entered the books as the 3rd mildest since records began in 1895. The 39.2° average was 5.7° above the 1981–2010 mean. The northern climate division of the state averaged 36.2° (+5.2°; 6th mildest), the south was 41.0° (+6.1°; 3rd mildest), and the coastal division was 41.2° (+5.7°; 3rd mildest). Average minimum temperatures ranked 2nd mildest for the state, while average maximums ranked 8th mildest. To place February 2020 in some perspective, it was just 1.6° below the 1981–2010 March average of 40.8° and only 0.2° below the longer 1895–2019 March average. It was close to the long-term (1981–2010) average February temperatures in Washington, DC, Paducah, KY, and Bristol, TN.

February precipitation (rain and melted snow) came in very close to the 1981–2010 average at 2.82”. This is just 0.02” above average and ranks as the 62nd driest (and 65th wettest) of the past 126 years. Divisional totals ranged from 2.48” (-0.34”, 49th driest) in the north, 2.99” (+0.21”, 60th wettest) in the south, and 3.37” (+0.48”, 51st wettest) at the coast.

Off Goes the Faucet: September 2019 Recap

October 7, 2019 - 5:26pm -- Mathieu Gerbush

Drought photo

No months prior to this past September have been drier across New Jersey since February 2009, a testament to how precipitation has leaned toward the wet side since the last major drought impacted the state in 2002. The 1.21” received this September was 2.84” below the 1981–2010 average. This ranked as the 7th driest September since records commenced in 1895. February 2009 saw only 0.66”, but since February is on average the driest month of the year (2.80”), the last time a monthly deficit was larger than this September was the 3.06” departure in September 2007. Since 2000, only six other months early in the century have been drier (February 2002: 0.75”, October 2000: 0.77”, March 2006: 0.82”, October 2001: 0.93”, November 2001: 1.00”, and September 2005: 1.19”).

Conditions were driest in the north, averaging 1.06”, which is 3.41” below normal and ranks as the 4th driest September on record. Southern NJ ranked 12th driest with 1.30”, which is 2.52” below normal. This “flash drought” depleted soil moisture, resulting in brown lawns and shallow-rooted trees losing leaves early. Fire danger also increased, resulting in a ban on open fires. At month’s end, the US Drought Monitor had most of NJ in the D0 (abnormally dry) category, with Salem County experiencing moderate drought (D1) conditions. Thanks to above-average precipitation earlier this year, northern NJ reservoir levels remained above early-fall averages. Certainly, a watchful eye will be kept on all water resources should this dry spell continue.

Above-average temperatures helped to dry things out in September. The 69.1° statewide average was 3.3° above the 1981–2010 mean. This ranks as the 8th warmest September over the past 125 years (tied with 1921; Table 2). Southern areas were warmest, at 3.5° above normal, while the north was 2.8° above.

NJ Warming Knows All Seasons

May 24, 2019 - 2:28pm -- Dave Robinson

Monthly Temperature Departures, Jan 2018-Apr 2019

So often over the past roughly year and a half, I have been writing about statewide monthly temperatures being among the warmest on record. In fact, February, May, August, and September 2018, as well as April 2019, have ranked as 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th warmest, respectively, since statewide averages began being generated in 1895. Throughout this century, this has so often been the case that, seemingly, it is almost expected each month. Not necessarily a top 5 ranking, but often in the top 20.

This got me wondering whether I was exaggerating the warmth since 2000. Thus an evaluation of rankings was performed for each month and for the year as a whole. This included generating counts of the warmest top 10 and top 20 warmest months since 1895 that have occurred from January 2000 through April 2019.

A Real Spring: April 2019 Summary

May 6, 2019 - 2:34pm -- Dave Robinson

In recent years, complaints have been voiced that New Jersey “never” has a real spring anymore. Now just what is meant by that comes into question, as some think spring should most often have sunny 70° days with a few April showers included now and again! However, the main point has been that in recent years NJ has seemingly gone right from winter to summer. Whether it was a cold March and record mild April in 2017 or a snowy March and chilly April 2018 followed by the 4th warmest May, the transition has been rapid. This year, despite April being quite mild, conditions did include a mix of chilly and warm spells, sunny and dreary days, and even some nasty spring thunderstorms and gusty winds. Vegetation greened up a week or so ahead of schedule, and with it there was far more pollen dispersed than many appreciated. However, the green up was not so early that there was a great threat from a late-season freeze. Though on the 29th, the blueberry crop closely escaped damage from a light frost and freeze during a vulnerable growth period.

Statewide, it was the 4th mildest April since records commenced in 1895. The 54.7° average was 3.8° above the 1981–2010 mean and ranked 4th mildest. Six of the top ten and nine of the top 20 mildest Aprils have occurred since 2002. The average daily minimum temperature ranked 3rd highest and average maximum 10th.

Precipitation was about as average as can be. The statewide average of 3.95” was 0.04” below the 1981–2010 average and 0.22” wetter than the 1895–present average. It was the 43rd wettest April of the past 125 years, once again demonstrating how monthly precipitation totals tend to be skewed below the mean.

Once Again, Summer is Slow to Depart: September 2018 Recap

October 7, 2018 - 8:18pm -- Dave Robinson

Coastal flood photo

For the fourth consecutive year, summer weather stubbornly hung on well into September across the Garden State. The statewide average temperature of 70.4° was 4.6° above the 1981–2010 mean, and ranks as the third warmest since records commenced in 1895. September 2017, now ranking 11th, sat in the top 10 for just one year before being bumped out by 2018. This September was the fifth consecutive month of above-average temperatures. The past 12 months have seen the 2nd warmest October, 4th warmest May, 1st warmest August (tied with 2016 based on updated figures), and now the 3rd warmest September. The June through September period this year averaged 73.3° (+2.5°), making it the 4th warmest on record. The top 10 such intervals have all occurred since 2005. The August–September average of 73.7° (+4.3°) was the warmest on record, followed by 2005, 2016, 2015, and 2010.

Perhaps what was most interesting about temperatures this past month was the disparity between average maximum and minimum temperature anomalies. The average maximum of 77.7° was 1.4° above average and ranked 27th warmest. However, the average minimum of 63.2° was 7.9° above average and is a whopping 2.2° milder than the previous highest September average minimum. This came about due to the excessive cloud cover and humidity throughout most of the month, which kept the days from getting too warm and, come nighttime, “trapped” much of the heat gained during the day within the lower atmosphere. Thus, unlike the past three warm Septembers (as well as 2013 and 2014), each of which had below-average precipitation, this year was anything but dry. There were frequent rainy episodes, which at times produced localized deluges and resultant flash flooding. The statewide average rainfall of 7.60” is 3.55” above the 1981–2010 average, and is tied with 1960 as the sixth wettest September since 1895. The wettest September on record remains 1999, which averaged 9.50 inches, in no small part due to Tropical Storm Floyd’s rains. Aside from 1999, you have to go back to 1975 to find a September with more rain than this year.

Green Warmth: August and Summer 2018 Recaps

September 5, 2018 - 8:18pm -- Dave Robinson

Flash flood photo

The summer of 2018 concluded on a warm, wet note across the majority of what was a persistently green Garden State throughout the season. The warmth dated back to late June, with frequent humid conditions and abundant showers from mid-July onward. There will be more on the entire summer at the end of this report. First a look at August, with a statewide average temperature of 76.8° coming in 3.8° above the 1981–2010 average. This was the second warmest August since 1895, falling just behind 2016 by 0.1°. Nine of the 13 warmest Augusts during that 124-year interval have occurred since 2001.

Statewide, August precipitation averaged 5.63”. This was 1.53” above the 1981–2010 average and ranked as the 32nd wettest since 1895. It was the wettest August since the record wettest month in 2011. As is often seen in the summer, the majority of the precipitation fell in scattered showers and thunderstorms. This resulted in a wide range of monthly totals around the state, with some serious flash flooding occurring in several locations when moisture-ladened storms parked themselves over an area for multiple hours. Where storms missed time and time again, rainfall totals were below average. The northern NJ climate division (Hunterdon, Somerset, and Union counties northward) saw their 10th wettest August on record, with an average of 8.28” falling. This is 4.17” above average. Since 1990, only August 2011 was wetter in this division.

A December Warm Spell for the Record Books

December 24, 2013 - 12:00am -- Dave Robinson

Temperature map

It wasn't just chestnuts that were roasting in New Jersey several days before Christmas this year. In fact it may be that coal noses on rapidly shrinking snowmen were igniting as a snowy spell from the 8th to 18th quickly transitioned to some unusually warm conditions.

Woodbine (Cape May County), Toms River (Ocean), and Berkeley Township (Ocean) shared top honors on Sunday the 22nd when the thermometer topped out at 73°. Maximum temperatures reached from 70° to 72° at 22 of the 55 NJ Weather and Climate Network stations. Only High Point Monument (Sussex), Hope (Warren), and Harvey Cedars (Ocean) managed to stay out of at least the 60s on the 22nd, with all three locations reaching 59°. Daily records were established at a number of long-term observing stations. For instance highs at Newark (Essex) on the 21st and 22nd of 64° and 71° beat former daily records by 3° and 6°, respectively.

October begins with record warmth, a tornado, and strong winds

October 9, 2013 - 12:00am -- Dan Manzo

Damage from tornado in Paramus

The first week of October was nothing but bizarre, or at least to most New Jerseyeans it seemed that way. The period included unseasonably warm weather, heavy rain, strong winds and even a tornado. It was all credited to a stationary front that held in position in Southern New York, which allowed warm air to enter the Garden State. The warm air was later pushed out, when a sharp and potent cold front from the Midwest set off severe storms and heavy rain in parts of the area.

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