December 28, 2011

October Snowstorm One for the Books; Fall 2011 Fourth Warmest on Record

“By far the largest October snowstorm on record clobbered central and northern areas of the state at the end of the month; an event that like several others in 2011 will long be remembered in New Jersey weather and climate annals,” reported New Jersey State Climatologist David A. Robinson in a recent posting on his website,

“Fall 2011 was warm and damp throughout New Jersey and, for several days, quite white in the northern half of the state,” the report continues. “The average temperature for September-November was 58.1 degrees F, which is 2.7 degrees F above average and makes this the fourth warmest fall on record. Temperatures each month were above average, with September (5th) and November (10th) in the top ten going back 117 years… Fall precipitation totaled 14.72”, which is 3.08” above average and ranks as the 18th wettest.”

Mr. Robinson is based at the Center for Environmental Prediction, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/New Jersey Agricultural Station of Rutgers University. The responsibilities of the office are “to collect and archive climate data, maintain an active research program pertaining to New Jersey climate and, through various outreach programs, provide climate education and information to the citizens of New Jersey.”

Information on the website of The Office the New Jersey State Climatologist gives the lie to the notion of “talking about the weather” as a neutral, time-filling topic of conversation. In addition to summaries of trends going back over 100 years, searchers can choose from among text, digital, “quick,” and graphical up-to-the minute weather forecasts and a weather map of North America that is updated every several hours. Those who are interested can examine radar maps that determine “range and bearing, distance and latitude longitude” (e.g., how far away is that storm?); and color enhanced satellite images for, as an example, analyzing clouds and predicting cold temperatures.

Relevant local, national, and international agencies can also be accessed from the climatologist’s website. Following a link to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration one can learn about current phenomena like air quality, coral bleaching, fire weather, and harmful algal blooms. Close perusal of the El Niño “theme page” promises to turn a novice into an expert on that subject. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (“because every drop counts”) plots precipitation reports from observers across the state; those interested in participating in this effort are welcomed and offered a chance to sign on.

The New Jersey climatologist offers the big weather picture, as well as more specific local descriptions. For the Princeton area, New Year’s eve revelers may be interested to know that the forecast is for “partly cloudy” weather with lows in the “lower 30s.” It will be “partly sunny” on New Year’s day, and temperatures will be in the “upper 40s.”