A Rather Unremarkable Month: January 2010 Overview

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
February 6, 2010

While New Jersey experienced some cold, windy days, a statewide soaking storm and a late-month southern snow event, overall January 2010 was not too memorable in the weather department. The temperature averaged 31.3°, which is 0.7° above the 1971-2000 average and ranks as 50th warmest (tied with 1930 and 1980) since statewide records began in 1895. Precipitation averaged 2.56", which is 1.38" below normal and ranks as 34th driest (tied with 1968 and 1971). All but the extreme southern counties received below-average snowfall.

The largest precipitation (rain and melted snow) totals were found in Morris (3.92" at Washington Township, 3.84" in Jefferson Township), Sussex (3.53" in Hardyston Township), Cumberland (3.46" in Vineland) and Cape May (3.41" at Upper Township) counties. On the low end, Washington Township in Mercer County received 1.70", while North Arlington (Bergen) had 1.71", Westfield (Union) 1.73", Wantage (Sussex) 1.88" and Upper Deerfield (Cumberland) 1.91". The 11.5" of snow in Middle Township (Cape May) took top honors for monthly snowfall, followed by the 9.6" in Hamilton Township (Atlantic). Only 0.4" of the white stuff accumulated in Fair Haven (Monmouth), 0.5" in Wall Township (Monmouth) and 0.9" in Franklin Township (Somerset).

The first several hours of the New Year saw a light mix of precipitation around the state. Other than a minor statewide snowfall on the 8th that brought 2.8" to Upper Township (Cape May County) but under an inch to most locations, the first sixteen days of the month were extremely dry. Through the 16th, the 0.20" in Hamilton Township (Atlantic) was the most rain and melted snow totaled across the state. The 17th-18th brought 2.07" of rain to Berkeley Township (Ocean) and 1.50" to Upper Township (Cape May). Most stations in coastal counties had over an inch, while on the low side of the ledger approximately half an inch fell in west central and northwestern NJ.

The bulk of January's precipitation fell in the 24th-25th rain storm. Morris County was the focal point for the heaviest rain, with 3.09" in Jefferson Township, 3.05" in Washington Township and greater than 2.00" in many locations. Most of the remainder of the state received more than an inch, while coastal locations had a bit less. The last two precipitation events of the month were in the form of snow. North of interstate 195, central and northern sections had measurable snow on the 28th. Most of this fell during the morning rush hour, resulting in numerous minor accidents. Tewksbury (Hunterdon) and Denville (Morris) picked up 3.0", with 2-2.5" totals in Belvidere Bridge (Warren), Hardyston Township (Sussex) and Ridgewood (Bergen).

The largest snow event of the month impacted the southern portion of NJ on the 30th-31st. The area roughly south of the Atlantic City Expressway received as much as 10.0" in Erma and Lower Township, both in Cape May County, and 8.4" at Linwood (Atlantic). Snow only accumulated northward to the Rt. 195 corridor. In counties receiving measureable snow, the largest totals were 6.8" in Vineland (Cumberland), 5.5" in Franklin Township and Malaga (Gloucester), 5.1" in North Beach Haven (Ocean) and Pittsgrove (Salem), 3.5" at Blackwood (Camden), 2.7" in Tabernacle (Burlington), 1.4" at Wall Township (Monmouth) and 0.4" in Washington Township (Mercer). The NASA MODIS visible satellite image from the morning of January 31 shown here clearly shows the southern NJ snow cover, along with the generally snow-free conditions in the northern half of the state. Note, however, the thin snow cover over the northern Highlands that remains from the snow event on the 28th.

Temperatures were generally below average during the first two weeks of January, then rising to above normal levels for all but the last few days of the month. Low temperatures fell to the single digits above or below 0° F on twelve days. The High Point Monument station (Sussex) took coldest honors on the 2nd-4th, 9th, and 28th-31st, with lows ranging from +8° on the 4th and 28th to -1° on the 30th. The Sussex County valley station of Walpack was coldest on the other four mornings, ranging from 8° on the 23rd to -7° on the 11th, the latter a morning where the next coldest station (Pequest in Warren County) came in at 4°. Statewide, the coldest morning was the 10th, with a number of locations in the single digits and West Cape May (Cape May) being the "warm" spot at 17°. The only morning of the month without at least one station at or below the freezing mark was the 25th, when Walpack only got down to 34° and Cherry Hill (Camden) only fell to 49°.

Daily maximum temperatures equaled or exceeded 50° on eight days. Three south Jersey stations reached 54° on the 15th, while three spots scattered around the state hit 53° on the 16th and 55° on the 18th. Hammonton (Atlantic) made it to 58° on the 19th, with Bethel Mill Park (Gloucester) reaching that mark on the 24th. The 25th was the warmest January day in 2010, with six southern stations at 62°, and no point in the state cooler than 51°. Bethel Mill Park reached 50° on the 26th, and Woodbine and West Cape May (Cape May) 50° on the 28th. The coldest afternoon of the month was the 30th when only Woodbine and Atlantic City Marina (Atlantic) climbed as high as 22°.

Early in the month it wasn't just the cold but the wind that made it feel so bitter. Nowhere were conditions more brutal than atop the Kittatinny ridge at High Point Monument and along the eastern slope of the ridge at Wantage in Sussex County. Winds gusted to 40 mph or higher on twelve of the first thirteen days of the month at Wantage and ten of thirteen days at the Monument. This included gusts at Wantage in the 50s on two days, the 60s on four days and a maximum of 73 mph on the 3rd. High Point gusted in the 50s on three days and the 60s on two days. Later in the month, Seaside Heights and Harvey Cedars (Ocean) gusted to 41 mph on the 18th and four southern stations gusted between 53 and 57 mph on the 25th. High Point Monument peaked at 49 mph on the 28th and 50 mph on the 29th, while Seaside Heights reached 46 mph on the 28th.

In addition to the aforementioned traffic issues from the 28th, other weather impacts during the month included dangerous wind chills on occasion, street, stream and some minor river flooding from the storm on the 24th-25th and minor traffic issues with the 30th-31st snow event, which occurred on a weekend.

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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