Closer to Average
October 2010 Overview

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
November 5, 2010

October proved to be a month where there was some return to normalcy in the temperature department. In addition, the rain of late September and periodically through October helped erase some of the precipitation deficits that had mounted over the late spring and summer. In fact, enough rain fell so that on the 23rd, the statewide drought watch was lifted by the commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. As of early November, only the northern coastal drought region (of six in NJ) remains in drought watch. This area received less October rain than elsewhere in the state and had the largest deficits (up to 12") over the April to September period. Thus, ground water has been slow to recharge in the sandy aquifers of this region.

While on the subject of precipitation, the statewide average total for the month was 5.16", which is 1.65" above average. This ranks as the 22nd wettest October since records commenced in 1895. The wettest part of the state was the western counties of Warren and northern Hunterdon. Top totals in Warren included the townships of Liberty (9.42"), Greenwich (9.21"), Oxford (9.03"), and Independence (8.94"). Holland Township at 8.98" took top honors in Hunterdon. In addition to these counties, 8.00" or greater totals were reported at observing sites in Salem, Ocean and Gloucester, and totals exceeding 7.00" in Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Burlington counties. On the low end, Middle Township (Cape May) only received 3.61" during the month. This is followed by 3.65" in Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic), 3.69" at Holmdel (Monmouth), 3.70" in Little Egg Harbor (Ocean), and 3.78" in Saddle Brook (Bergen).

The heavy rain of September 30th to October 1st was discussed in the September narrative. This culminated in moderate flooding along the Delaware and other state rivers on the 2nd. Crests on the middle Delaware down to Trenton ranked approximately 20th highest in over a century of records. The Raritan River crest at Bound Brook ranked approximately 30th highest over this period. Damage was not extensive from any of the flooding around the state.

Rain returned from the 3rd-5th, with large totals at Ocean County locations such as Berkeley Township (4.61"), Lavallette (4.59"), and Ortley Beach (4.30"). The remainder of coastal NJ caught between 1.50" and 3.50" while a pocket of heavy rain left 1.00"-1.50" in Warren County and under 0.50" to most of central and northeast areas.

The one significant severe weather event of the month took place in the late afternoon and evening of the 11th. Severe thunderstorms in north Jersey brought localized reports of over an inch of rain and roadway flooding. Hail up to an inch in diameter was observed in Bloomfield (Essex County), with some damage to cars reported. Other hail reports were in the 3/8" to 7/8" range, including Denville and Parsippany-Troy Hills (Morris), Readington and High Bridge (Hunterdon), and Somerville (Somerset). The most significant of the severe storms delayed by almost an hour the start of the Giants Monday night football game at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford (Bergen County). Denville (Morris) reported the most rain, with 1.56" falling. Jersey City (Hudson) received 1.25", Little Falls (Passaic) 0.91", and Kearny (Hudson) 0.90". The remainder of north and central NJ had between 0.25" and 0.75", with much less falling to the south.

What proved to be a underperforming nor'easter for the state brought a widespread 0.50" rainfall on the 14th-15th . Ortley Beach (Ocean) was tops at 1.02", with 0.84" in both Mt. Laurel (Burlington) and Mantua Township (Gloucester), and 0.80" at River Vale (Bergen). Central and southern regions received 0.25"-0.50" on the 19th, with local heavier rain of 1.00" in Hamilton Township (Atlantic) and 0.80" at Stone Harbor (Cape May).

The final storm of the month brought moderate to heavy rain to all but the northeast, where only 0.10"-0.20" fell. The most impressive totals included Brick Township (Ocean) 2.12", Lake Como (Monmouth) 1.99", Woodbine (Cape May) 1.49", and Winslow Township (Camden) 1.39".

While only amounting to a trace of liquid, the first light snow flurries of the season were reported at High Point (1803' elevation) and Wantage (1020') in northwest Sussex County mid day on the 22nd.

Barometric pressure topped out at approximately 30.20"-30.25" on the 23rd, not an impressive monthly maximum. The 15th saw values bottom out at 29.40"-29.45", closely followed by 29.45"-29.50" values on the 1st. Not surprisingly, the weather systems that brought these extremes were associated with some of the stronger winds of the month. While no significant damage was reported, winds gusted above 40 mph at one or more locations in the state on eleven October days. This included gusts on the 1st at each end of the state, including 49 mph at Bivalve (Cumberland) and 45 mph in Wantage (Sussex). Other 40 mph plus days included the 3rd (43 mph Atlantic City Marina, Atlantic), 4th (43 mph Seaside Heights, Ocean), and the 6th (43 mph Woodbine, Cape May). The 15th was the windiest day of the month with gusts of 50 mph at High Point Monument (Sussex), 41 mph at Wantage, and a number of locations with gusts in the 30-40 mph range. The 16th was not far behind, with a 47 mph gust at Wantage. Either or both High Point Monument or Wantage reached the low to mid 40 mph level on the 17th, 21st, 22nd and 29th, with the 27th bringing a 40 mph gust to Atlantic City Marina (Atlantic).

Turning to October 2010 temperatures, the state average of 56.1° was 1.9° above average, and ties with 1899 and 1922 for the 35th warmest. This ends the seven month streak of temperatures in the top ten warmest category, and makes for the tenth above-average month of the past twelve (November 2009 was also in the top ten).

Temperatures see-sawed from above to below average conditions over the 31 days. Afternoon highs were 75° or higher at many locations on the 1st, 8th, 9th, 11th-12th and 24th-28th. This included 80° at Hammonton (Atlantic) on the 1st, with four stations scattered throughout the state at 77°. New Brunswick (Middlesex) reached 78° on the 8th and Woodbine (Cape May) 79° on the 9th. The last 80° readings of the season occurred at six stations in the south on the 11th, with only our two High Point stations as cool as the 60°s. Hammonton and Woodbine reached 78° on the 12th. The unusual warmth toward month's end saw 78° at Howell (Monmouth) on the 24th and 79° on the 25th. The 25th brought highs of 78° at two stations and 77° at eight others, while only seven coastal and northwest sites topped out in the mid to upper 60°s. Three central stations reached 75° on the 26th, Mullica Township (Atlantic) got to 78° on the 27th, with this same mark at six southern locations on the 28th. The 27th proved to be the warmest morning of the month, with most of the state failing to fall below the mid to upper 60°s, and only some northwest locations in the 50°s.

The first freezing temperatures of the season were observed on the 10th, when Pequest (Warren) dropped to 29°, Basking Ridge (Somerset) to 30°, and Berkeley Township (Ocean) to 31°. These are prime areas in the state for cold air drainage on calm, clear nights. Before proceeding with the discussion of October cold, it is worth noting that the valley station at Walpack (Sussex), often the coldest in the state observing network, was out of commission until the 24th.

Freezes were observed on ten other October mornings, however the only freezes that extended somewhat out of the traditionally coldest locations were on the 23rd, when twelve of the approximately 55 stations in the NJ Weather and Climate Network (from which we gather daily observations for this report) dipped below freezing, and the 30th, with nine stations at or below 32°. Thus the vast majority of the state escaped the month without a hard freeze. In New Brunswick (Middlesex), the low for the month was 33°. This makes only the fourteenth October since 1893 without an October freeze at this location, with five of these occurring since 1995.

The 13th saw a low of 31° at Pequest, with the three stations that reported a freeze on the 10th (Pequest, Basking Ridge, and Berkeley Township) all dropping to 32° on the 14th. The trio again fell to between 30°-32° on the 17th, with Pequest at 31° on the 18th. Pequest led the way with 30° on the 20th, joined by 31° at Basking Ridge and 32° at Hope (Warren). Four stations fell to 30°-32° on the 22nd, including Woodbine in Cape May County. Pequest reached 29° on that day. The aforementioned 23rd saw Pequest cool to 27° and eleven stations between 30°-32°.

October finished with three cold mornings. Walpack was back by then and showed its "strength" on the 29th at 29°, and again on the 30th with a monthly low of 25°. Pequest reached 29° on that morning, with seven stations between 30°-32°. Halloween found Berkeley Township at 28° (south Jersey's coolest low of the month), and four stations between 30°-31°.

For those seeking more detailed information on hourly, daily and monthly conditions, please visit the following Office of the NJ State Climatologist's websites:

NJ Weather and Climate Network
NJ Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network
NJ Snow Event Reports

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