Rainstorm Puts Area Out of Drought Risk

Jul 26, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

The heavy rainstorm that blew through Southern Ocean County overnight Sunday into Monday was just what the area needed to prevent a possible drought alert. David Robinson, state climatologist from Rutgers University, said that prior to the weekend, two weather stations had recorded 2.07 inches and 2.7 inches of rainfall since June 15. But after the deluge, the two locations’ totals jumped to 4.26 inches and 4.88 inches.

“That’s right around where we want to be,” said Robinson. “The normal amount would be from 4.5 to 5 inches.”

Robinson said last week that he was  “keeping an eye” on Southern Ocean County and Burlington County.

“Those were the areas in the state up to then that were having the least rainfall,” he said.

Robinson said the U.S. Drought Monitor has five levels, ranging from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought.”

“The abnormally dry designation is not very unusual,” he said. “It serves as a heads-up and reminds people that they should conserve water.The next level would be moderate drought, where water restrictions are possible. Hopefully, we won’t have to be concerned about rainfall for a while. But it can get hot and dry again pretty quickly.”

Another data station, in Lacey Township, recorded 2.7 inches since June 15, with about half coming from Monday morning’s storm.

“Rainfall amounts can be tricky during the summer because the intensity can be very localized,” Robinson said. “Lacey was just north of the heaviest rainfall activity. And you also have pop-up storms, where you can have heavy rain in one part of town and be bone dry on the other part.”

When the temperatures start getting sultry, people like to head to the shore for relief. But such relief hasn’t been the case lately.

“Since July 14, there has not been an overnight temperature lower than 70 recorded at our Harvey Cedars weather station,” said Robinson. “That happens when you have an absence of a sea breeze. We’ve had a daytime high of 92 so far.”    

He said that for August, temperatures will likely be above normal.

“For rainfall, there’s an equal chance of getting above normal or below normal precipitation,” he said.

As hot as it may be lately, it falls short of last summer, which was the second hottest in New Jersey since meterological records started being kept in 1895. The statewide average temperature was 77.1 degrees, which is almost 4 degrees above the average of 73.4 degrees.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to that level,” Robinson said.

Lance Francke, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, said the summer weather has “been pretty normal.”

“We’ve just had our third heat wave, when the temperatures hit 90 or above for three straight days,” he said. “We’ve had hot, humid weather and hit-or-miss storms. That’s typical for this time of year.”

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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