ONJSC's Top 10 NJ Weather and Climate Events of 2016

Dr. David A. Robinson
New Jersey State Climatologist
Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/NJAES, Rutgers University
December 29, 2016

Listed below is the Office of the NJ State Climatologist's ranking of the top 10 weather and climate events of 2016. More about each event can be found in the monthly narratives posted on You might be tempted to rearrange the rankings, particularly as some of the events down the list may have affected you more than others ranked higher. Or perhaps you best recall one that didn't make the list. That's the enjoyment (and frustration!) of lists. Unless stated otherwise, observations are based on an average of several dozen stations. The period of record for monthly and annual departures is 1981–2010; while for extremes and rankings it is from 1895–present.

  1. January 23rd blizzard.
    1. Record and near record snowfall of 1.0–2.5 feet over most of the state. Top honors went to 30.0" totals at Long Valley (Morris County), Succasunna (Morris), and Bernards Township (Somerset).
    2. Wind gusts to 64 mph at Harvey Cedars (Ocean) and 60 mph at Sea Girt (Monmouth). Six other of the 65 NJWxNet stations gusted between 50–57 mph, 14 from 40–49 mph, and 19 from 30–39 mph.
    3. Moderate to severe coastal flooding, especially along the southern coast.
  1. Top 10 warmth
    1. Annual: 3rd warmest on record, with a mean of 55.0°. Tied with 2006 and behind #1 2012 and #2 1998.
    2. Seasonal: winter 2nd mildest, spring 10th, summer 2nd, and fall 6th.
    3. Monthly: March 4th, July 7th, August 1st, and September 4th.
  1. Drought
    1. Statewide annual precipitation of 40.21” was 6.15” below normal.
    2. 9 of 12 months with below normal precipitation, with March 9th driest.
    3. The northern climate division had its 10th driest year since 1895, while the southern division ranked 42nd driest.
    4. While Charlotteburg (Passaic) and Sussex (Sussex) experienced their 4th driest year of the past century, Cape May (Cape May) had its 12th wettest.
    5. NJ Department of Environmental Protection issued a Drought Warning for the 14 northern counties on October 28th.
    6. National Drought Monitor had NJ in varying levels of drought from summer onward. End of year situation included Severe Drought in most of the north, tapering to Moderate and Abnormally Dry southward.
  1. Windy days
    1. Five days with winds gusting above 60 mph at one or more NJWxNet or National Weather Service airport stations. Maximum gusts included January 23 (64 mph Harvey Cedars), February 24 (62 mph Berkeley Township), April 26 (61 mph Cream Ridge), June 8 (72 mph Upper Deerfield), July 18 (68 mph Linden, Union), and November 21 (60 mph High Point Monument).
    2. 57 days with winds gusting to 40 mph or higher. Of these, 37 had gusts of at least 50 mph.
    3. Statewide, several especially windy days, including January 23rd, March 28th, April 3rd, May 8th, June 8th, and December 15th.
  1. Record-breaking early- and late-season warmth contributes to lengthy growing season
    1. March 9th–10th temperatures into low 80°s both days in portions of southern and central NJ. The back-to-back 82° and 83° days at the New Brunswick (Middlesex) NWS Cooperative observing station were the earliest days on record (back to 1893) above 76°.
    2. October 19th one of the warmest late-season days on record across NJ. The 88° maximum at New Brunswick (Middlesex) was the latest in the year that mark or higher had been reached at this location in the past 124 years.
    3. Ten-day to two-week early green up in March, with a similar delay in leaf fall from October into November.
  1. Severe summer storms
    1. Early on Memorial Day (May 30th), the NJ Turnpike corridor northward to Middlesex County received over 4.00" of rain in several locations.
    2. June 21st microburst damaged homes and airport facilities in Rio Grande (Cape May). Storms throughout southern NJ brought a gust to 58 mph in Fortescue and power outages to 10,000 customers.
    3. July 14th: White Township (Warren). EF0 tornado was the first confirmed in NJ since October 7, 2013. Estimated winds were 75 mph, with the tornado estimated to be 75 yards wide and traveling a 2.8-mile route. Tree and building damage occurred but there were no injuries reported.
    4. July 25th: Readington (Hunterdon) to Branchburg (Somerset). EF1 tornado with peak winds of approximately 90 mph. It touched down in Readington (Hunterdon) and remained on the ground for 3.49 miles to Branchburg (Somerset). The maximum width was 75 yards as the storm damaged buildings, trees and cars, but injured no one.
    5. July 29th. Princeton-Plainsboro (Mercer) received as much as 7.23" of rain.
    6. July 30th. Western Somerset and portions of Hunterdon counties caught as much as 6.00" (radar estimate) and a location in Berkeley Township saw 6.48".
  1. February 24th nor’easter
    1. Heavy rain (some in thunderstorms) brought on scattered flash flooding. As much as 3.07” fell in Salem (Salem) and 2.91” at Verona (Essex).
    2. Wind gusts to 62 mph in Berkeley Township, 50–55 mph at seven stations, 40–48 mph at 13 locations, and 30–39 mph at 33 stations (of the 65 in the NJ Weather and Climate Network: NJWxNet). Strongest statewide winds since Sandy (though generally 20 mph weaker than that storm). Somewhat windier than the January 23rd blizzard.
    3. Cherry Hill (Camden) warmed to 68°, New Brunswick and Sicklerville (Camden) hit 67°, and 40 other NJWxNet locations were 60°–66°.
  1. Cold and hot extremes
    1. Cold with brutal wind chills: February 11th–14th. Winds fanned a massive warehouse fire in Hillsborough (Somerset) on the 11th, with smoke exiting the coast near Sea Bright (Monmouth) 35 miles to the east. High Point Monument wind chill as low as -46° on the morning of the 14th with an air temperature of -14° and wind gust of 34 mph.
    2. August 13th saw Haworth (Bergen) reach 99°. Combined with excessive humidity, the heat index was 110°–115° in many locations. The daily minimum was as high as 83° at Fortescue. Harrison (Hudson) reached 100° on the 14th, the only time the century mark was reached at a NJ location in 2016.
  1. Brushes by hurricanes
    1. Hermine lurked off the Mid-Atlantic coast from September 3rd–6th. Winds did not gust above 37 mph (Harvey Cedars), however, their lengthy onshore persistence led to minor flooding and moderate beach erosion.
    2. Matthew stayed near the Carolinas, however, moisture associated with the storm strayed to the north and linked up with a cold front to deliver heavy rain to coastal south Jersey. As much as 3.10” fell at Wildwood Crest (Cape May).
  1. Low seasonal snow total in NW Jersey
    1. The climatologically snowiest area of NJ was the least snowy during the 2015–2016 winter. The High Point Ranger Station caught 19.9” and Wantage (Sussex) 18.0”, about 35”–45” below average, respectively. Seasonal snowfall records are rather scarce in NJ and elsewhere, however, it may be that such a situation is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented, in any state during any winter on record.
    2. Most of the state received slightly above-average snowfall in the 2015/2016 season, a large percentage falling during the January blizzard. However, the far northwest received little during the blizzard.
    3. Snowfall in November–December 2016 already exceeds or approaches that of all last season at the Ranger station (25.2”) and Wantage (20.1”).

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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