It rained for several hours Thursday, but according to the new U.S. Drought Monitor report for New Jersey, much of the northern part of the state is still classified as being in a severe drought, Central Jersey remains in a moderate drought condition, and South Jersey is still abnormally dry.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is maintaining a drought warning for the 14 northern counties, while southwest Jersey is under a drought watch. There are no watches or warnings for the  southernmost parts of the state.

According to Dave Robinson, the state climatologist at Rutgers University, we have had scattered precipitation over the past few weeks, but this has not had any significant effect on reservoir and stream levels.

“There have been no changes of late. We had some welcome rains at the end of November, but for the most part December has been on the dry side,” he said.

“We’re still below-average for December. We’re going to end the year well below average for much of the state, with the exception of the far south."

Robinson pointed out in parts of northwest New Jersey, 2016 has been the 4th driest year of the last century, with rainfall totals running about 10 inches below average.

“We’ve gotten some rain this cool season. The reservoirs have come up somewhat, but Mother Nature still has some work to do in the precipitation department,” he said.

El Nino or La Nina?

Robinson noted right now we’re feeling the effects of what might be best described as a very weak La Nina pattern in the tropical Pacific.

“It does tend to mean temperatures running a little bit above average and snowfall somewhat below average, but this is not always the case and weak La Nina events don’t show much of a signal at all,” he said.

“There’s no one strong indicator out there telling us what’s going to happen precipitation-wise, temperature-wise or how much snow we’re going to get,” he said.

Robinson stressed “we still need above average rain for several months to end our drought concerns.”

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