Central Jersey counties ‘abnormally dry’ — Is NJ headed for a drought?
No one wants to see rain during the summer, but this is the time of the year when New Jersey needs it the most. And that's definitely the case this year. The state's climate guru warns of drought concerns as we head into the hottest months.
As of the latest update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, the northern third of New Jersey was given a D1, or "Moderate Drought," designation. Another sliver of the state — encompassing parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset counties — is considered "Abnormally Dry."
"May was certainly helpful in reversing some of the negative precipitation trends we saw in March and April," said state climatologist David Robinson at Rutgers. "However, come June, the situation has gone back to one with below average precipitation."
March and April of this year ranked as the seventh-driest on record in New Jersey. Overall, Spring 2016 delivered an average of 9.39 inches of rain, nearly three inches below normal.
And rainfall in June so far, according to Robinson, is running about an inch below average statewide.
Reservoirs appear to be holding their own across the state, but all other drought indicators are heightening concerns, Robinson noted.
Rainfall, stream flow and groundwater levels are raising flags in most New Jersey regions, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection's drought page.
But conditions are still considered "normal" by the state, due to adequate reservoir levels.
During July and August, one inch of rain per week is considered average. But, factoring in evaporation from Mother Nature and human consumption, the state usually ends up with a net loss in water.
"What you just hope for is that you don't have an irregular summer with higher temperatures than average and less rainfall than average, because that's when New Jersey can rather quickly slide into serious water concerns," Robinson said. "We're going to need timely rains and, on occasion, ample rains."
An outlook for the final segment of June, Robinson said, points to normal temperatures and perhaps above-normal precipitation levels.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at Dino.Flammia@townsquaremedia.com