So much rain in NJ lately — but is the drought finally over?
Since it’s been raining in New Jersey since the end of last week, and more rain is in the forecast for Tuesday, you might think the Garden State’s drought concerns are over.
Unfortunately, however, that is not the case.
According to Dave Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University, even after four days of precipitation, parts of the state are still facing abnormally dry conditions that continue to cause concern.
He said above Route 80 in North Jersey, “there’s been very little rain from this system, a tenth of an inch, rather than 5 or more inches in the South, and there, moderate drought conditions still remain.”
Low reservoirs and streams
Reservoirs, streams and groundwater levels reman low across the northern third of the state.
On the plus side, non-stop rain has basically been a drought-buster for South Jersey, where the 3 to 5 inches have fallen over much of the region, while some parts of Atlantic and Ocean counties have had 6 to 8 inches.
“That’s going to go a long way toward making up rainfall deficits, but we still have to keep an eye on our groundwater levels, they’ve been depleted going back to last winter," Robinson said.
He said that while we are still not totally back to normal in South Jersey but “this has been a major improvement south of 195.”
Central Jersey it’s a mixed bag. He said areas including Monmouth, Northern Ocean and Mercer counties have significantly benefited from the rain we’ve been having, but those counties still have a water deficit.
He said between Interstates 195 and 78, “there’s been several inches of rain, particularly in Monmouth County and over to southern Middlesex, which has been the driest area of the state going back 60 to 90 days.”
Waiting and watching
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said once this current stormy pattern wraps up in the next day or so, “I think we'll be in an anxious wait-and-see stage to see exactly how reservoirs and agriculture respond to the rain and runoff.”
He noted historically some of Jersey's most effective drought-busters have been prolonged three-to-four-day rain events, driven by a former tropical system, but “once our latest batch of wet weather finally wraps up, we fall right back into a dry pattern again.”
What does all of this mean?
Robinson said it’s still important to not waste water.
“Every drop is precious; we have to keep that in mind even when the rain is pouring down.”
He said all things considered, we are still dealing with drought worries in the Garden State “because of the prevailing drier conditions in the North, and that’s where the most people live and where the major water supplies are.”