A Warm Month In Yet Another Hot Summer
August and Summer 2012 Report

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
September 3, 2012

August Overview

The persistent warmth that has enveloped New Jersey for well over a year continued in August. There were no record hot maximum temperatures, and in fact the hottest NJ could muster was three days where one or more locations topped out at 95°. However, on twelve days the maximum reached at least 90° somewhere in the state. The statewide average temperature of 75.1° was 1.7° above the 1981-2010 average and ranked as the 11th warmest August of the past 118 since 1895 (Table 1). Combined with July's ranking as 5th warmest and with the dead on average temperature for June (the only month that has not been above average since February 2011), this tied for the 6th warmest summer on record. More on summer conditions later in this narrative, but first an examination of August.

Rank Year Aug. Avg. Temp.
1 2005 77.4°
2 1955 76.2°
2 2002 76.2°
4 1900 76.0°
5 2001 75.8°
6 2009 75.6°
7 1988 75.5°
8 1980 75.4°
8 2003 75.4°
8 2010 75.4°
11 2012 75.1°
11 1937 75.1°
13 1938 75.0°
13 2006 75.0°
15 1939 74.9°

Table 1. The fifteen warmest Augusts across New Jersey since 1895.

Eight of the first eleven days of the month saw maximum temperatures of at least 90°, this based on observations from 53 NJ Weather and Climate Network stations, along with Newark, Trenton, and Atlantic City airport National Weather Service stations. Hawthorne (Passaic County) and Newark (Essex) reached 93° on the 2nd. Hawthorne topped out at 95° on the 3rd and 4th. The 5th was the hottest day of the month, with Greenwich (Cumberland) and Newark at 95° and ten stations reaching 94°. New Brunswick (Middlesex) got to 90° on the 6th and 8th, joined by Hawthorne on the 8th. Hawthorne was up to 93° on the 9th and 90° on the 11th.

The 17th saw Cherry Hill (Camden) and Newark top out at 91°, with nine stations at 90°. A week later, the 24th saw Hawthorne and Mansfield (Burlington) reach 90°, followed by 90° at New Brunswick on the 28th. The final day of August was the second warmest afternoon of the month with Newark at 94°, four stations at 93°, and eleven at 92°.

The thermometer dropped to 55° or lower at one or more NJ location on fourteen August mornings. Three of these days saw afternoon temperatures make it to 90° at other locations in NJ, and on the 31st Pequest (Warren) started the day at 47° and reached 90° during the afternoon. The 7th saw 54° at Basking Ridge (Somerset). Walpack (Sussex) was 55° on the 13th and Pequest 55° on the 14th. The 17th through 24th saw conditions cool enough for at least one location to be under 55° each morning. The lowest reading on the 17th was 54° at Basking Ridge, followed by the next day at Walpack at 51°, Pequest and Basking Ridge 47° (19th), Pequest 52° (20th), High Point Monument 54° (21st), Pequest 51° (22nd), Basking Ridge 53° (23rd), and Pequest 54° (24th). Walpack and Pequest fell to 50° on the 29th. The 30th was the coolest morning of August, with Pequest bottoming out at 45°, Basking Ridge 46°, Walpack 47°, and 21 other stations between 49°-55°. Hope (Warren) and Pequest ended the month with 47° lows on the 31st.

August precipitation averaged 4.79" across NJ, which is 0.58" above average. This ranks as the 46th wettest of the past 118 Augusts. As also seen in July, local totals varied widely, even in adjacent counties. Lebanon (Hunterdon) was wettest at 7.35", followed by 7.16" at both Cape May (Cape May) and South Brunswick (Middlesex). 24 stations received between 6.00" and 7.35". On the dry side, Palisades Park (Bergen) saw 2.08", Wantage (Sussex) 2.18", Oxford Township (Warren) 2.49", and White Township (Warren) 2.53". On nine days, over 2.00" fell at one or more locations.

Nine Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations received more than 2.00" on the 1st, topped by Lebanon with 3.92" and Upper Deerfield (Cumberland) with 3.07". The heavy totals were observed in thunderstorms over portions of Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, and Cumberland counties. While localized storms only brought 0.69" to Cherry Hill (Camden) and 0.68" to Long Hill Township (Morris) on the 4th, trees and wires came down in Camden and nearby Burlington counties.

A squall line traversed the state during the afternoon and evening of the 5th, bringing one of the most widespread rainfalls of the month. Tabernacle (Burlington) caught 2.72", Berlin (Camden) 2.69", and Folsom (Atlantic) 2.51", with twelve other stations over 2.00". Reports of downed trees and wires were received from Sussex, Passaic, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties. Gusts of 70 mph and 60 mph were recorded at Sandy Hook (Monmouth) and Newark Airport (Essex), respectively. Hillsborough (Somerset) received a gust of 39 mph, which was the highest gust at a NJ Weather and Climate Network station during the month. This is an unusual situation, given that most every month sees gusts exceeding 40 mph at one or more of these stations.

Scattered strong thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening of the 9th downed trees in Hunterdon and Mercer counties and dropped heavy rain in Mercer and Monmouth counties. Belmar (Monmouth) received 2.17", Wall (Monmouth) 2.15", and Hopewell (Mercer) 1.85". Widespread storms from late morning into the afternoon of the 10th brought the heaviest rain to northern and coastal regions. Eleven stations received at least 2.00", topped by 2.69" and 2.40" at two Oakland (Bergen) stations and 2.50" in Cranbury (Middlesex). Storms on the 11th over the far south, central west, and far northwest brought 2.96" to Woodland Township (Burlington) and 1.93" and 1.78" to two Woodbine (Cape May) stations.

Occasional storms occurred from the daytime hours of the 14th into the afternoon of the 15th. Totals included 2.28" in Wayne (Passaic), 2.10" at Carneys Point (Salem), and 1.91" at Cedar Grove (Essex). Afternoon storms on the 15th brought 0.25"-0.50" diameter hail to locations in Monmouth and Sussex counties and downed trees in Passaic, Monmouth, and Cumberland counties. Tragically, a 41 year old Long Branch man was stuck and killed by lightning while fishing with his son in that coastal community. This is New Jersey's second lightning death of the summer.

Rain from late evening on the 17th to the morning of the 18th totaled 1.10" at Oakland (Bergen) and 0.86" at Kingwood (Hunterdon). Heavy rain fell over much of Cape May County from late evening on the 25th to early morning on the 26th. Cape May was drenched with 5.05", 3.89" fell in Wildwood Crest, and 3.31" at Stone Harbor. There was a sharp cutoff in the rain just further north with Middle Township at 2.30" and Upper Township with 1.55" but only 0.42" and 0.49" at two Woodbine stations. Little or no rain fell north of Cumberland and Atlantic counties. The last rain event of August occurred during the daytime hours of the 27th. Heaviest totals were found from central and northern coastal communities into central areas and up into the northern Highlands. Eight stations saw more than 2.00", topped by 2.99" at West Creek (Ocean), Toms River (Ocean) 2.52", Long Branch (Monmouth) 2.48", and Wanaque (Passaic) 2.49". Trees were reported down in Ocean County.

On the flip side, "top 10" days with sunny, mild conditions, and low humidity occurred statewide on the 12th-13th and 29th-30th.

Barometric pressure topped out at 30.30"-30.35" on the 26th and was at a monthly low of 29.70"-29.75" on the 10th.

Summer Overview

As mentioned earlier, this was another warm summer in a warm year. The average temperature from June through August was 74.4°, which is 1.6° above average and ties with 2002 as the 6th warmest (Table 2). Eight of the top ten have occurred since 1999 and five of the top ten in the past seven summers. July 18th will go in the books as the hottest day of the summer, with the temperature exceeding 100° at a number of locations. The first eight months of 2012 averaged 58.1°, which is 3.5° above average. This is a substantial 0.9° above January-August 1998, the second warmest such interval. 2010 ranked 4th and 2011 8th warmest.

Rank Year Summer Avg. Temp.
1 2010 76.2°
2 2005 75.6°
3 2011 75.2°
4 1949 74.6°
5 1999 74.5°
6 2002 74.4°
6 2012 74.4°
8 2006 74.3°
9 1955 74.1°
10 2008 74.0°

Table 2. The ten warmest summers (June-August) across New Jersey since 1895.

Precipitation for the three summer months averaged 12.96" statewide. This is 0.21" above average and ranks as the 55th wettest (64th driest) summer. Coastal counties received average to somewhat above average amounts while the regions centered on Morris County in the north and Camden County in the southwest had totals as much as 3.00" below average. For the year through August an average 26.10" fell statewide, which is 5.28" below average and becomes the 16th driest first eight months on record.

Of the 28 weekend days and two holidays from Memorial Day weekend though August 25th-26th, five Jersey shore locations monitored by the state climate office (Sea Girt (Monmouth), Seaside Heights (Ocean), Harvey Cedars (Ocean), Atlantic City Marina (Atlantic), and Cape May (Cape May)) had more than 0.02" of rain (enough to just wet the ground) fall between the hours of 8AM and 8PM on four, four, two, four, and three days, respectively. Examining Sea Girt solar radiation observations, there were nine partly- to mostly-cloudy days, seventeen partly cloudy days, and four clear days. The respective numbers at Cape May were six, twenty-three, and one.

Daily maximum temperatures were in the 70°s and 80°s at all five stations on all weekends and holidays except June 17th, when they were in the 60°s at all stations, and on July 1st, 4th, and 7th when the 90°s were reached at most locations. The 7th saw the high temperature reach 97° or 98° at the five stations.

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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