Mild and Dry August, Hot and Dry Summer: August and Summer 2008 Overview
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
September 4, 2008
A relief to many, August was absent any heat waves and had many cool nights. This resulted in a preliminary monthly statewide average temperature of 71.8°, which is 1.0° below the long-term mark. Some 43 Augusts have been cooler and 68 have been warmer since statewide records began in 1895. Coastal and higher elevation stations failed to reach the 90° mark on a single day, while the warmer locations only reached the low 90s on a handful of days. There were several exceptionally cool nights, with Walpack, which sits in a Sussex County valley, dropping to 41° on the 20th and 27th and 42° on the 26th. The warm late summer ocean temperature kept Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island much warmer on those nights, with lows of 66°, 65° and 64° respectively.
August precipitation was preliminarily 2.75", or 1.81" below normal. That places it as the 21st driest of the past 114 Augusts. While many locations failed to exceed the 2" mark for the month, as expected during the summer thunderstorm season, several spots caught some hefty totals. Half inch plus rains fell on at least a few locations on the 2nd, 6th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 30th. Impressive daily totals included 1.98" at Ramsey (Bergen County) on the 6th, 3.96" at Washington Township (Gloucester) on the 10th, 2.81" in Lawrence Township (Mercer) on the 11th, 2.17" in Lavallete (Ocean) on the 14th, and 1.43" at River Vale (Bergen) on the 15th. New Jersey was rain free between the 16th and 28th. Monthly totals were as high as 6.02" in Washington Township (Gloucester County) and 5.92" in Tenafly (Bergen). Howell Township (Monmouth) at 0.69" and Buena Vista (Atlantic) at 0.84" were the dry spots in August.
Despite the below average August, the very warm first two thirds (a record warm June-July) resulted in the summer tying 1900 as the 7th warmest on record (back to 1895; see table below). At 73.9°, the temperature was 1.7° above average. Several heat waves from early June to mid July and the absence of many cool nights during those two months helped to elevate the average. Note that 5 of the 8 warmest summers have occurred in the past decade.
Every summer month recorded below average precipitation. The total of 9.49" is 3.35" below average and makes this the 19th driest summer of the past 114 (see table below). It was the driest summer since 1999. Most every county in the state had a departure from 3-5" below average, with only the northern most counties having smaller departures. Scattered rain gauges may have caught close to 16" (for instance, Lawrence Township and Tenafly), however some had as little as 6" (Bridgeton, Cumberland County). August ended with rivers and ground water at below-normal levels. However, timely rains in the northern NJ reservoir areas kept their capacities close to average.
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Past Climate Summaries