March 2006 Climate Summary

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, Cook College/NJAES, Rutgers University

April 1, 2006

New Jersey has just experienced its driest March since statewide records commenced in 1895. Based on approximately half of the 30 stations used to compute regional and statewide monthly summaries, 0.86” fell this past month (this value is unlikely to change by more than plus or minus 0.10” when all reports are computed). This total falls below the previous record dry March in 1915 when 1.16” fell (a list of the top 10 dry Marches is found at the end of this note). Average March precipitation is 4.17”, and the wettest on record is 7.80” in 1912. This is the first month with less than an inch of precipitation since February 2002 and only the 10th month since 1970 when the total failed to eclipse an inch.

Over the longer term, the precipitation deficit is not as significant, as prior to March the year was running slightly above normal. In large part due to a record wet October, the past 6 months are running well above average in the northern part of the state, with only the southern tier of counties running just a bit above average.

The recent dry spell has resulted in most streams running below average for this time of the year and below average ground water levels in those areas where levels fluctuate rather quickly. The volume of water in the state’s reservoirs is decreasing at a time when it is usually rising, however conditions remain close to normal for this time of the year.

Of greatest concern at the moment is the threat of forest and brush fires. This will remain until a soaking rain falls and even then will remain a Spring concern until deciduous trees leaf out and grasses green. Fortunately the spring greening is occurring a week or more early this year. This is a function of March temperatures being about 2 degrees above average. Garden State temperatures have been above normal in 9 of the past 10 months.

10 Driest Marches in NJ since 1895:
0.86" 2006 (preliminary)
1.16" 1915
1.25" 1910
1.50" 1927
1.50" 1981
1.70" 1966
1.83" 1985
1.87" 1995
1.96" 1986
2.06" 1976

Past Climate Summaries