November on the Dry Side
Another Warm Season
November/Fall 2010 Overview

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
December 5, 2010

November Overview

With a statewide average of 2.12" of precipitation, November was the seventh of the last eight months running a deficit. This total is 1.59" below the 1971-2000 average and ranks as the 31st driest over the past 116 years. Over this string of months, only August had a larger deficit. This suggests that it has been the persistence of the dry conditions, rather than the extreme nature of any month or months, that has been its signature. Still, annual precipitation is running close to average at 42.27", or just 1.24" below the long-term mean, thanks to copious precipitation in February and March.

Precipitation did not vary widely across the state. The wettest locations include Brick Township (Ocean County) at 3.03", two stations in West Milford (Passaic) with 2.93" and 2.83", Little Falls (Passaic) at 2.77", and Jefferson Township (Morris) with 2.75". On the drier end, Upper Deerfield (Cumberland) came in with 1.62", while 1.65" accumulated in Winslow Township (Camden), 1.68" in Berlin Township (Camden), 1.72" at Wall Township (Monmouth), and 1.73" in Wildwood Crest (Cape May).

There were four notable precipitation events during November; two for the amount that fell, and two bringing a bit of sleet and snow. A storm that began during the afternoon of the 30th, reaching a crescendo on December 1st, will be discussed in the December report. The 4th-5th brought close to an inch or more of rain to the entire state. Top totals included 1.95" in Brick Township (Ocean), Ocean City (Cape May) 1.67", Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic) 1.59", and Bernards Township (Somerset) 1.58". Next up, on the 8th a nor'easter backed in from the east, bringing with it some sleet and snow that mixed in with a cold rain across northern and central Jersey. Only the northwest corner received more than 0.10" of rain and melted frozen precipitation, including 0.39" and 0.22" at stations in Wantage Township (Sussex).

The 16th-17th brought about a half inch of rain to southern and central regions and more than 0.75" at a number of northern locations. This included 1.28" in West Milford, 1.24" at Ringwood, and 1.18" in Hawthorne, all in Passaic County. An early morning severe thunderstorm on the 17th resulted in structural damage in some central and northern locations, overturned small aircraft at the Trenton-Mercer County Airport and disrupted power in some locations.

Precipitation on Thanksgiving morning (25th) began as snow or sleet throughout the state, persisting for several hours in Hunterdon and Warren counties, and eventually turned to light rain in all locations. The northern half of the state received about 0.25" of rain and melted snow/sleet, topped by 0.36" in Franklin Township and 0.34" in both Bethlehem Township and Stockton, all in Hunterdon County. Less fell to the south. The first measurable snow of the season included 1.3" in Holland Township (Hunterdon) and 1.0" in Greenwich and Liberty Townships (Warren).

After a run of eight consecutive months of above average temperatures, preliminary November reports indicate a mean temperature that, at 44.9°, is identical to the 1971-2000 normal. This comes in as the 48th warmest over the past 116 years of statewide records. Turning to the year-to-date for a moment, 2010 is in a dead heat with 1998 as the warmest first 11 months since 1895. However, 1998 had a fifth-warmest December, a ranking that this year looks to be difficult to match or surpass. Thus an annual ranking of second or third warmest is anticipated.

Temperatures fluctuated from week to week, starting below average, warming in mid month and again just before Thanksgiving, and ending on the cold side. Maximums equaled or exceeded 65° on eight days. This included a stretch of six days from the 12th. Chatham (Morris) topped out at 68° on the 12th, with Hawthorne (Passaic) and Basking Ridge (Somerset) at 66°. The warmest day of the month was the 13th, with Chatham at 71°, Hawthorne at 69°, and both New Brunswick (Middlesex) and Bethel Mill Park (Gloucester) reaching 68°. Bethel Mill Park and Hammonton (Atlantic) hit 67° on the 14th, with eight stations following close behind at 66°. Highs of 65° were reached at Howell (Monmouth) and Hammonton on the 15th and 16th, respectively. Hammonton hit 67° on the 17th. The 68° maximum at Howell and Eastampton (Burlington), 66° in Egg Harbor (Atlantic), and 65° at nine locations on the 22nd finished out the warm portion of the month.

Colder mornings earlier in the month included temperatures in the teens to low 20s at commonly cold locations. The 2nd saw the temperature fall to 15° at Walpack (Sussex), followed by a remarkable 12° minimum at this location on the 3rd. Pequest was next coldest on the 3rd, with a low of 21°. Unfortunately, recurring power issues at Walpack saw the station drop offline after the 8th. This left Pequest to step in as the most frequent coldest location. This location took top honors on the 12th at 19°. The end-of-month cold spell dropped temperatures to 18° at Pequest on the 28th, with Berkeley Township (Ocean) and Kingwood (Hunterdon) close behind at 20°. The coldest morning of the month was the 29th, with Pequest at 16°, Berkeley at 17°, and Basking Ridge (Somerset) down to 18°.

High Point Monument (Sussex) never made it above 32° on the 27th, marking the first day and location of the season where a station failed to make it above freezing. In an opposite sense, several coastal locations and the urban Newark Airport (Essex) station did not see a morning at or below freezing this fall until the 27th or 28th. Newark and Point Pleasant Beach (Ocean) bottomed out at 32° on the 27th, while Atlantic City Marina (Atlantic), Seaside Heights (Ocean), and Harvey Cedars (Ocean) reached 31° or 32° on the 28th. This first freeze at Newark was the third latest on record, dating back 80 years. Only December 2, 1985 and November 29, 1979 had later first freezes. It must be noted that this location has become increasingly urbanized since observations commenced in 1931, thus it is to be expected that colder conditions prevailed in earlier decades. The first freeze of the season at New Brunswick (Middlesex) occurred on November 1st. This was their 14th latest first freeze dating back to 1893 at this park location that has not been subject to notable urban warming.

On five days this month wind gusts exceeded 40 mph at multiple locations. In northwest Jersey, Wantage (Sussex) had a 45 mph gust on the 7th, with 41 mph reached at High Point Monument (Sussex). Wantage reached 51 mph on the 3rd and the Monument 50 mph. Close behind were 49 and 46 mph gusts at the Ocean County coastal locations of Seaside Heights and Harvey Cedars. The windiest day of the month occurred on the 17th with High Point Monument reaching 56 mph, Trenton (Mercer) 54 mph, Wantage 51 mph, Bivalve (Cumberland) 50 mph, and eight other stations gusting to 40-49 mph. The 23rd brought gusts of 45 mph to High Point and 44 mph to Wantage, with the two stations gusting up to 55 mph and 45 mph, respectively, on the 24th, and Clayton (Gloucester) reaching 43 mph.

The storm on the 4th saw the lowest atmospheric pressures of the month, falling to 29.35-29.40" at a number of locations. High pressure systems brought values of 30.45-30.50" on the 1st, 30.50-30.55" on the 21st and 30.55-30.60" on the 29th.

The previously mentioned wind damage on the 17th was the most impactful event of the month. On the calm side, Election Day on the 2nd saw crisp, clear conditions. A widely-visible smoky brush fire during the late afternoon of the 3rd destroyed several unoccupied buildings in Edison (Middlesex). The last of the six drought regions of the state remaining under a drought watch since late summer saw this designation lifted on the 10th. This area encompasses portions of the north coastal counties of Monmouth and Ocean. Other zones had the watch lifted in October.

Fall 2010 Overview

The 4th warmest September on record started off what proved to be the 3rd consecutive above-average season across the Garden State. However, while spring and summer were both the warmest since records commenced in 1895, fall was "only" the 12th warmest (table 1). While almost every decade in the database saw at least one fall in the top 20, the past ten years saw seven in this grouping. This fall's average temperature was 2.0° above average.

Rank Year Fall Avg Temp
1 1931 59.1°
2 2005 58.5°
3 2007 58.2°
4 1961 58.0°
5 1900 57.9°
5 1946 57.9°
7 1985 57.7°
8 1941 57.4°
9 1971 57.3°
10 1959 57.1°
11 1970 57.0°
12 2010 56.8°
12 2001 56.8°
14 1999 56.7°
14 1975 56.7°
16 1973 56.5°
16 1990 56.5°
16 1998 56.5°
16 2003 56.5°
20 2004 56.3°
20 2006 56.3°

Table 1. Twenty one warmest falls across New Jersey since 1895

Fall precipitation was below average in September and November, however October was wet enough to result in a season that, with a total of 10.54", was only 0.83" below average, making it the 58th driest or 59th wettest. Timely rain events, including a major rain storm on September 30 – October 1, eased New Jersey out of what had become a worrisome drought, which had included the 8th driest summer on record. As a result, the season ended with the drought watch being lifted for the entire state. However, portions of coastal counties remained classified as D0 or "abnormally dry" according to the US Drought Monitor. This is the result of lingering precipitation deficits and lower-than-average ground water levels.

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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