Have recent rains been enough to eliminate NJ drought concerns?
☂ A month ago, weather observers were hoping for heavy rains in New Jersey
☂ NJ was hit with good rains in late June and July
☂ The latest map shows persisting areas of drought concern
The U.S. Drought Monitor has been updated to reflect the latest rainfall and water supply concerns in the Garden State.
What a difference a month makes, or even a week.
Following a mostly dry winter into spring, there were rising concerns for drought across New Jersey.
Then, along came the last week of June, when areas of the state received a month's worth of rainfall over the course of 24 hours. As recently as this past weekend, several towns in the state recorded three to five inches of precipitation.
"While there are still some areas of dryness remaining across the state, for the most part, our drought concerns have been minimized," said Dave Robinson, New Jersey State Climatologist at Rutgers University.
In the middle of June, much of New Jersey was considered at least "abnormally dry," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. That was also the case a week ago.
But the July 13 update removes the "abnormally dry" designation for a number of counties, particularly those in the north and northwest sections of the state.
"I'm pretty happy to see the situation and the turnaround here as we approach mid-July," Robinson said. "Despite how hot it gets or how dry it gets, we're in good enough shape to make it towards Labor Day."
There are still a few areas of concern related to water levels. Eastern Monmouth County, and parts of five southern counties — including much of Cape May and Cumberland counties — are considered to be in "moderate drought." There are three levels of intensity higher than that.
July and August are typically the wettest months of the year in terms of rainfall, but they are also the leaders in evaporation — which can easily outpace precipitation.
While the Garden State managed to dodge a major drought for the summer, Robinson and other weather watchers are still looking for "timely rains" over the next few weeks. Drought concerns are still a reality in the fall months.
"I don't see any big pattern changes on the horizon, meaning we will continue to see occasional bursts of rain and thunderstorms through the rest of July and into August," New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.