October’s ‘potpourri’ of weather conditions this year in NJ
October is a transitional month and it transitioned in many respects, according to New Jersey state Climatologist David Robinson at Rutgers University. Weather stations across the state this month recorded both record-breaking warm temperatures as well as ice and snow.
"We had some ice and snow at the higher elevations. We had record high temperatures for so late in the season. The southern part of the state got some moisture from Matthew as it came north early in the month and the conditions are quite wet down in the southern counties," he said.
Meanwhile, the northern 14 counties of the state are under a drought warning.
Robinson called described weather conditions this month in New Jersey as a "potpourri."
October 2016 was a few degrees above normal compared to past years, but Robinson noted that's nothing unusual in a year where temperatures are running well above normal.
Precipitation overall was below average, but not exceptionally so, Robinson said.
"Most areas outside of the urban and coastal vicinity have had their first freeze and frost. That's normal by the end of October."
The leaves are a little later this year —not because of the dry weather, but because it was so warm in the summer, late summer and early fall, which has delayed things a little, Robinson pointed out.
On Oct. 19, several weather stations across the state recorded 88-degree temperatures.
"In New Brunswick, the 88 degrees was the warmest on record for so late in the season, and we have records going back over a century in New Brunswick, so that give you an idea of the magnitude of the late season warmth," Robinson said. "We have had temperatures in the low 20s in parts of northern New Jersey, generally in valley areas, where the cold air has pooled in the valleys on calm, clear nights on a few occasions."
A 1/4-inch of ice or more accumulated at the higher elevations near High Point during the daytime hours of Oct. 27, according to Robinson. "That was proceeded by a dusting of snow," he said.
Despite the conditions being all over the map, Robinson said it is somewhat typical for October.
"It's a transition month. So, you can get caught by a late-season tropical system, the one that delivered a little moisture to the south earlier in the month. You can have an early season system bring a cold front through with some very chilly weather and maybe accompanied by some snow flurries. You can see temperatures in the 80s and you can see temperatures below freezing."
Robinson compared October being similar to the transitional month of April. He noted the key right now is the drought warning in place for much of the state.
"It's not just October dryness, by any means. Across northern and central New Jersey, going back to the beginning of the growing season last March, only about two-thirds of average rain has fallen, and with that the reservoirs are down below average for this time of the year, rivers are flowing quite low, and ground water levels are low as well," Robinson said.
Robinson noted it was prudent for the state Department of Environmental Protection to issue a drought warning to manage the water supplies very carefully in the coming months. He cautioned water use restrictions might be needed as we get through the winter and into the next growing season.
"It's not a dire situation right now, but it's one of great caution."
Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.
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