A See Saw Month: February 2008 Overview
A Mild Wet Winter: December-February Recap
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
Updated: March 21, 2008
It certainly did not pay to get used to any particular type of weather across the Garden State this past February, as "continual transition" was the theme for the month. When all was summed and averaged, the second month of 2008 proved to be a mild and wet month with about average snowfall.
February's average temperature of 35.3° was 2.4° above the 1971-2000 mean and ranked as the 21st warmest since 1895. Two afternoons saw temperatures challenge or exceed record highs. Maxima on the 6th ranged from the mid 50s in the northwest hills to the low 70s along the north Jersey coast. The 73° highs at Point Pleasant and Sea Girt were remarkable, given that each station sits within several hundred yards of ocean water that was close to 40°. Offshore winds and a bit more sun than elsewhere propelled this area of the state to the highest values that day. The 18th brought temperatures near 70° in inland central NJ, while they remained in the mid 50s along the coast and in the northwest. Despite the overall mildness of the month, there were two particularly cold days. High temperatures on the 11th were in the upper teens to mid 20s, following lows from near zero to 10°. Adding insult to injury were the strong winds blowing on that day. They also blew on the 28th when high temperatures remained in the 20s.
This past February was quite a wet month, with the statewide average of 5.23" (rain and melted snow) making it the 9th wettest on record. The top 10 wet Februaries are shown below. It is interesting that four of the wetter ones occurred more than a century ago.
Precipitation was approximately an inch above average in the southern half of the state, while the north was exceedingly wet. In fact, the preliminary 6.57" average for the northern climate division (Hunterdon-Somerset-Union county and all counties to their north) ranks as the wettest on record since 1895. The two major precipitation events of the month occurred on the 1st when 1-2" of rain fell statewide, and on the 12th-13th when 1.5" fell in the south and 3" soaked the north. As a result, some minor stream and river flooding occurred in central and northern counties.
The third significant precipitation event of the month resulted in the largest statewide snowfall of the season (thus far). The storm on the 22nd brought 1-4" of the white stuff to the south, 4-6" to central counties and 6-8" in the north. In most areas, some sleet, freezing rain and/or rain followed the snow. This was one of four occasions in February when at least 2" of snow fell at one or more observing stations in NJ. Some snow fell in central and northern counties during the large, mostly rain event on the 12th-13th, snow fell in the extreme south on the 20th, and the last day of the month into March 1 saw some light snow accumulate in the northern half of the state.
Along with the February report above, monthly reports for December 2007 and January 2008 may be found on this website. Putting all the numbers together for these three winter months tells the story of a mild and wet winter. The mean temperature for the period was 35.3°, which is 2.3° above average. The top 20 warmest are shown in the below:
Winter precipitation statewide was 12.86", which makes this the 18th wettest of the past 113 at 2.26" above normal. Here are the top 25 wettest:
While the snow season is likely not finished, ever since the first flakes flew in the northwest hills in November at least 2" of snow fell on 14 occasions at one or more observing stations in NJ. As mentioned above, the largest event to date occurred on February 22nd. As of this writing, snowfall for the season across most of NJ is about half of what an average winter would bring through the end of February. This amounts to less than 10" south of the Route 1 corridor and less than 20" for most of the lower elevations north of there. Only in the north central and northwestern hills have snowfall totals come close to average through February. In fact, areas exceeding an elevation of 1000 feet in the far northwest have seen between 50"-60", which is close to the full snow season average. The more abundant snows in these areas have come in a number of relatively small events where temperatures were just cold enough to deliver frozen precipitation. Simultaneously elsewhere in the state, all or the vast majority of the precipitation fell as rain.