This past winter season was full of surprises, and one of the biggest was the amount of snowfall New Jersey wound up with when all was said and done.

According to Dave Robinson, the state climatologist at Rutgers this past winter, "snowfall was actually a little bit above average." That's despite the fact that New Jersey saw few snowstorms.

He says we can pin most of that on that huge weekend blizzard in January that dumped up to 30 inches on the state. Robinson says without that onee snowstorm, we would be well below average, "but the fact is this snowstorm did occur, and with that above-average snowfall in the southern part of the state, even more than above-average in the central."

Robinson says on the opposite end of the snowfall scale, the least-snowy part of the state this winter was up in the northwest corner of New Jersey, where residents missed more than 5 or six or seven inches of the blizzard. And they have only come in with little over a foot for the winter.

Robinson says, "in terms of precipitation, we came out above-normal as well." But he added, "thus far, March has been the driest of the winter months."

But he says the other three winter months were slightly above-average in terms of precipitation, putting us in the ranking as around the 20th-wettest winter of the last century — and that includes rainfall and melted snow.

And there is no surprise here — Robinson says it wound up being the fifth-warmest winter on record in New Jersey. He adds it was "not the warmest on record, but certainly one of the warmest on record, and a winter noted for a considerable amount of volatility, with the very warm December, just back and forth every few days in January and February. (We had) a brutally cold Valentine's Day weekend in the middle of February — and then again, leaning towards the warm side as we got into March, including some of the earliest 80-degree weather on record in New Jersey."

Robinson says the weather fit the El Nino pattern to a T — with warmer and wetter than usual for a winter season, "the fact is there was a lot of energy in the atmosphere this winter, be it warmth, be it moisture. ... There was a pretty active storm track, and in multiple cases, those storms came up the coast as nor'easters, and that really fits the prescription of an El Nino winter in New Jersey.

He also says, "for that matter, a good portion of the country fit into that El Nino pattern."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5