Mother Nature, make it rain!

Thanks to significant rainfall over the past few weeks, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report for New Jersey shows some improvement, but much of the Garden State is still facing a significant rainfall deficit.

Not surprisingly, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s drought warning for much of the state remains in effect.

The Drought Monitor report, which is produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center, has listed most of North Jersey in a severe drought condition. Central Jersey is classified as having moderate drought conditions. South Jersey is still classified as being abnormally dry.

“While groundwater, stream and reservoir levels remain below normal, we’re doing much better after the last two weeks or so. We’ve had multiple significant rainfall events and tossed in a little bit of snow in the higher elevations,” said New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson, who helps to coordinate and produce the U.S. Drought Monitor report.

“Groundwater has begun to be replenished, although the ground has remained thirsty. Stream flows are up, as are the reservoirs. So, across the board there have been improvements over most of the state.”

Robinson said in recent weeks South Jersey has actually been a bit drier than the rest of the state, although rain deficit totals for the balance of the year are not as bad as in northern and central sections of the state.

He pointed out the northwest area of Jersey, which has had the biggest rain deficit in the state for months, is still on the drier side. “But even there things have picked up with the 2, 3, or even 4 or more inches of rain and melted snow that have fallen in the last two weeks.”

Robinson explained the dividing line between dry and really dry conditions runs through Central Jersey.

He said the concerns we had a month ago, “that the U.S. Drought Monitor might go into an extreme drought situation rather than just a severe drought situation, have been minimized for now."

"You really couldn’t have had a better prescription to start pulling out of this drought than what has been delivered the last several weeks.”

He stressed however, this doesn’t mean our drought woes are over.

“We absolutely need normal precipitation with a few episodes of above-normal precipitation between now and the spring to make sure we enter the next growing season, the next water consumption season, in good shape,” he said.

“We’ve only begun to make up the deficits that have accumulated over the bulk of 2016.”

Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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