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This state summary was produced to meet a demand for state-level information in the wake of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment. The summary covers assessment topics directly related to NOAA’s mission, specifically historical climate variations and trends, future climate model projections of climate conditions during the 21st century, and past and future conditions of sea level and coastal flooding.

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Smoke from western US forest fires leads to a filtered sunset in Hoboken (Hudson County) on September 14th. Photo by Max Guliani.

Up and Down But in the End Quite Average: September 2020 Recap

Dr. David A. Robinson
October 6, 2020

September 2020 was a month of widely-varying temperatures, several episodes of heavy precipitation, and an extended dry spell. Put it all together and conditions averaged quite close to normal. The statewide monthly average temperature of 66.8° was 1.0° above the 1981–2010 mean. While it was the seventh month of 2020 to average above normal, it was just the second of these not to rank in the top 10 for warmth. Rather, it ranked 33rd warmest of the past 126 Septembers. Divisional departures from normal ranged from +0.7° in the north to +1.5° along the coast. The statewide average maximum temperature was 76.6°, which is 0.3° above normal and ranks 47th warmest. The average minimum of 56.9° was 1.6° on the warm side and ranked 24th mildest. High temperatures were likely reduced by several degrees during a mid-month period when a veil of smoke from western US forest fires blanketed the sky at an altitude of about 25,000–30,000 feet when skies otherwise would have been blue, especially on the 15th–16th. It is uncertain if this kept minimum temperatures somewhat warmer than they would otherwise have been. A cold front moved through from the northwest on the 18th, clearing the skies and sending temperatures plummeting. What followed was a four-day spell of temperatures that were well below average, including four nights with below-freezing temperatures at three to four Rutgers NJ Weather Network sites. While freezes resulting from cold air draining into valleys in some northern locations are not unprecedented before the end of astronomical summer, it is highly unusual for the cold to persist over four consecutive nights.


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