A Rather Mild and Dry November and Multi-Faced Fall 2009 Wrap Up

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
December 6, 2009

November Overview

Cold weather failed to become entrenched in New Jersey over the course of November. In fact, the 49.4° statewide average temperature was 4.5° above the 1971-2000 average. November 2009 ranks as the 4th warmest since records began being kept in 1895. Of the top fifteen warmest, five have occurred this decade (see table below).

Rank Year Nov Avg Temp
1 2006 49.9°
2 1975 49.6°
3 1931 49.5°
4 2009 49.4°
5 1948 49.3°
6 1994 49.2°
7 2001 49.2°
8 1985 49.0°
9 1999 49.0°
10 1902 48.7°
11 2003 48.7°
12 1979 48.6°
13 1963 48.1°
14 1946 47.9°
15 2005 47.8°

Coastal stations were warmest, averaging close to 51° to 52°. Most stations around the rest of NJ came in between 48°-50°. Not surprisingly, the station at High Point Monument (Sussex County) was the coolest at 41°.

Temperatures exceeded 70° on three days. The 8th saw stations in every county reach this mark (though not every station). This included four stations at 73°. Three stations maxed out between 71°-73° on the 9th. The last very warm day was on the 15th, when New Brunswick (Middlesex) reached 73° and stations in more than half of NJ's 21 counties were between 70°-72°.

While low temperatures were at or below the freezing mark at one or more stations on nineteen days of the month, there was a week-long run from the 10th-16th without even the normal cold locations getting that cold. The coldest morning of the month was the 7th, when most locations fell into the 20's, with Walpack (Sussex) dipping to 18° and Pequest (Warren) to 19°. Even the Newark Airport station dropped to 31°, its first and only freezing morning of the season through the end of November. No other station besides Walpack dropped below 25° on any other morning (which reached between 22° to 24° four times). At month's end, near-coastal stations had yet to see their first freeze. This included Seaside Heights (Ocean) which had dropped to 34°, Harvey Cedars (Ocean) to 35° and Atlantic City Marina (Atlantic) to 36°.

November precipitation all fell in the form of rain, with totals varying considerably from north to south. Not one snowflake was observed anywhere in New Jersey. Berkeley Township (Ocean) had the top total of 4.41", followed by Linwood (Atlantic) at 4.06", Stafford Township (Ocean) at 3.67" and Sea Isle City (Cape May) with 3.39". Much drier conditions prevailed in Franklin Township (Hunterdon) with 1.02", at two Lebanon (Hunterdon) stations (1.05" and 1.12"), and at Flemington (Hunterdon; 1.12"). The average statewide total for the month was 2.25", which is 1.46" below normal and 37th driest of the past 115 Novembers.

There were only three precipitation episodes during the month where as much as an inch fell at any location. The first was part of a major coastal storm from the 11th-13th and will be covered later in this narrative. The second event followed on the heels of the first and brought the most rain to the northern coast. Lavallette (Ocean) reported 1.53" and Berkeley Township (Ocean) had 1.35". Totals were close to a half inch to the south and up into central NJ. To the north, as little as 0.10" fell. The third wet interval occurred from the 19th-20th. Evening and overnight thunderstorms contributed to downpours that brought 1.31" to Washington Township (Mercer), 1.17" to Hawthorne (Passaic), 1.10" to Cranbury (Middlesex) and Somerset (Somerset), and 1.05" to Franklin (Warren). Less than 0.10" fell during this event in Cape May County.

Wind gusts exceeded 40 mph at one or more locations on seven November days. The 6th brought gusts of 48 mph to Walpack (Sussex) and 41 mph in Wantage (Sussex). The 11th-13th is covered in the next paragraph. The 16th saw the Monument reach 42 mph. Gusts of greater than 40 mph struck four locations in the northwest on the 27th, topping out at 49 mph in Wantage. High Point Monument gusted to 60 mph on the 28th and Wantage to 59 mph. Gusts in the low 40s were observed at Parsippany (Morris), Harvey Cedars and Seaside Heights on the 28th.

A major storm impacted coastal communities from the 11th-13th. This slow moving nor'easter developed from the remnant energy of Hurricane Ida and had its forward progress up the coast slowed by a strong high to the north. While heavy rain occurred along the south coast, including 2.60" at Linwood (Atlantic) and 2.29" at Sea Isle City (Cape May), the key ingredient of this event was the persistent onshore winds. The water pushed to the coast resulted in tides as much as three feet above normal, with waves of 5-10 feet atop these tides. This resulted in major damage to beaches and dunes and considerable flooding of some coastal communities from overflowing back bays. There has yet to be a full assessment of damage, though the total may ultimately exceed one hundred million dollars. This was one of the worst storms to impact the coast in the past several decades, particularly from Cape May to Long Beach Island.

At the NJ Department of Transportation RWIS station, which sits on a bridge in Lower Township (Cape May) that heads into Wildwood, gusts equaled or exceeded 39 mph every hour from 5PM on the 11th until 7PM on the 13th (50 hours). The maximum gust was 53 mph on 12th and 57 mph on the 13th. Another RWIS station on a bridge into Atlantic City (Atlantic) recorded gusts equaling or exceeding 40 mph every hour from 3AM on the 12th until 7PM on the on the 13th (40 hours). The maximum gust was 53 mph on the 12th and 50 mph on the 13th. Heading further up the coast, at Harvey Cedars (Ocean) gusts equaled or exceeded 38 mph every hour from 3AM on the 12th to 11AM on the 13th (32 hours). The maximum gust was 54 mph on 12th and 46 mph on the 13th. At the Seaside Heights (Ocean) SafetyNet station, gusts equaled or exceeded 40 mph every hour from 8AM on the 12th until 4AM on the 13th (20 hours). The maximum gust was 52 mph on 12th and 45 mph on the 13th. Gusts at the Sea Girt (Monmouth) NJ Mesonet station operated by the state climate office equaled or exceeded 39 mph every hour from 7AM pm the 12th to 2PM on the 13th (31 hours).

Fall 2009 Overview

The one major theme through fall (September-November) 2009 was the pounding taken by NJ coastal beaches. This began with the powerful storm of September 10th-11th, continued with another bout of strong onshore winds from October 15th-17th and included the signature event of November 11th-13th. Suffice it to say that New Jersey's beaches and coastal communities are in a more vulnerable position as we head into the winter storm season than has been seen in quite a number of years.

Precipitation totals and departures varied widely from month to month and place to place. When all was said and done, an average of 12.05" fell across the state the past three months. This is 0.68" above normal and ranks as the 38th wettest dating back to 1895. The southern coast was wettest, with 19.95" falling at one station in Woodbine (Cape May) and 18.89" at another. Linwood (Atlantic) received 19.51". Sussex County was driest, with 7.98" at Andover, 8.53" at Wantage and 8.80" in Hardyston Township. Saddle Brook (Bergen) also reported less than 9" for the season (8.94").

For the second consecutive year, accumulating snow fell in October. While less than on October 28, 2008, the 2-4" at higher elevations of northwest Jersey on the 15th was earlier than last year. Valley locations saw anywhere from a dusting to several inches, with (unlike 2008) little or no damage to leaf-clad trees reported.

Fall temperature departures varied from spot on average in September to less than a degree below average in October to our recent 4th warmest November. Together this resulted in a statewide average fall temperature of 56.1°. This is 1.3° above average and is the 22nd warmest (tied with 1947 and 1948) on record. The first freeze of the fall season occurred in a few locations on October 2nd, while coastal communities did not experience a fall freeze.

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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