Is a drought imminent in New Jersey?
We haven't had any significant rainfall in the Garden State in a couple of months, and there is growing concern a drought could soon be declared in parts of New Jersey.
According to Dave Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University, most of the Garden State has been quite dry in the month of August, especially in Central Jersey.
"May was the third driest on record, but June was the fourth wettest June in the last 120 years and that was the real saving grace, because we could be facing seriously low reservoirs and possible crop damage if it hadn't been so wet," Robinson said.
Robinson said in determining whether we're approaching a drought classification, a committee of experts will look at several different factors including reservoir levels, stream flow, soil moisture and precipitation.
"Right now a lot of Jersey is classified as being D-zero which is abnormally dry, but if we don't get significant rain in the next week or two, then we turn our eyes to a potentially worsening situation where we jump into D-1 categorization - that is actually known as moderate drought," the climatologist said. "It's something that only happens perhaps every decade or 20 years in terms of where we sit at - it would be late August or September."
Part of the reason why we're facing a possible drought, Robinson said, is because while this summer has not been exceptionally warm, it has been above normal every month in New Jersey.
"Not only that it's been persistently warm - today is going to be the 55th straight day in New Brunswick with the high temperature of 80 degrees or higher," he said.
Robinson said that the mix of cloudy and rainy days in July and August often keeps temperatures in the 60s and 70s, "but the last day the temperature did not hit 80 in New Brunswick was July 4."
He said the bottom line is "if the next 2 weeks stay as warm and dry as the national weather service is forecasting we could see parts of Jersey with significant enough deficits of rainfall, soil moisture and stream flow, that we might get to this moderate drought categorization."