Spring showers in May washed away NJ drought worries
It's been a mostly-dreary start to the month of May in New Jersey, with more rain expected later Friday, but maybe we shouldn't complain about the unpleasant conditions.
According to David Robinson, the state climatologist at Rutgers, the precipitation was "much needed," and it temporarily "put the brakes" on drought concerns for the Garden State.
Rainfall amounted to about 1.5 inches in the northern half of the state during the first 10 days of May, Robinson said. But more than 3.5 inches fell in some spots along the southern coast.
So with about three weeks still left in the month, certain areas are already closing in on New Jersey's average May rainfall total of 4.37 inches.
The dose of wet may have come at the perfect time.
Robinson noted this past March and April was the seventh-driest March-April combination in over 120 years of records in New Jersey. Not a drop of rain fell between April 13 and 22.
Dry conditions led to a handful of brush fires, including two in the Meadowlands.
"There were growing concerns, initially of fire danger early in the season, then having enough soil moisture for agricultural purposes, and then already seeing the reservoir levels slowly decline," Robinson said.
Current reservoir levels, following the May streak of rain, are at about 90 percent, Robinson noted.
But the public should never put its guard down when it comes to the use of water, he said.
"I've seen the reservoirs filled on May 1 and a drought watch or greater in this state by August 1," he said. "If you get the right summer conditions and dry weather, we can very quickly slide into an episode of concern."