The Rollercoaster Ride Continues

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

March 1, 2006

The last posting on this site spoke of the highly variable weather experienced by Garden State residents in 2005. Certainly no one will disagree with the assessment that this rollercoaster ride has continued into the first two months of 2006.

January temperatures were exceptionally mild, making the first month of the year seem more like March. In fact, the monthly statewide mean temperature of 38.7 degrees was 8.1 degrees above normal, only 2.3 degrees cooler than a normal March. January ranked as the 6th warmest NJ January since records began in 1895. This fell right in line with the remainder of the lower 48 states, as the contiguous states experienced their warmest January of record. For a final thermal note, four of the ten warmest Januaries in NJ since 1895 have occurred since 1990.

Following the warmth of January and the first week or so of February, we were rudely awakened to the fact that winter still appeared on the calendar. The snowstorm of February 11-12 (click on the date for the report) brought over 20" of the white stuff to portions of central and northeast NJ. Less than 10" fell along the coast, due to an extended period of rain, and in the northwest, which never experienced the heavy snow bands seen elsewhere. The 20.7" in New Brunswick was the 5th largest snowfall since 1860. Interestingly, three of the top 5 have occurred in the past 11 winters (January 1996 and February 2003 being the others). The top storm remains the March 1888 blizzard when an estimated 3 feet fell on the city.

The massive snowpack had little time to settle in, as exceptionally mild air quickly invaded the Garden State. Within days most of the snow cover disappeared, just in time for one of the coldest blasts of the winter to invade the region. It seems as if the ride is not yet over....

Past Climate Summaries