The grass is greener but the NJ drought watch continues
Thanks to the recent rains we had lawns across New Jersey are turning green again, but if you think this means the Garden State’s drought concerns are over, think again.
According to state climatologist Dave Robinson, the latest drought monitor report indicates most of Jersey is still facing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, with an area that includes parts of Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Mercer counties experiencing severe drought conditions.
He said the soaking rain we had at the beginning of last week coupled with the rain that fell over much of the state earlier this week has certainly helped things, but Jersey’s rain deficit won’t just disappear overnight.
It takes time
"It’s not just the rain that falls and the soils that get moistened up, we also have to look and see how groundwater responds and river flows respond as they perhaps begin to refill some of the reservoirs," he said.
He noted conditions in much of South Jersey and portions of Central and North Jersey have improved a bit thanks to all of the recent precipitation but "just cause the soils have moistened and the grasses have greened doesn’t mean all of the hydrologic indicators have responded as positively as that."
New Jersey 101.5 chief meteorologist Dan Zarrow agreed, pointing out “two healthy soakings in one week certainly helped our drought situation, but we still have a long way to go.”
Robinson stressed what we really like to see is a series of soaking rains.
"Maybe one or two pretty strong storms, and then we’ll start to see the streams start to flow at higher levels, the groundwater levels perk back up."
What does all of this mean?
Robinson said we are still in a concerning watch and wait kind of situation, and all Garden State residents should continue to use water wisely.
"You have to take it just a step at a time, because sometimes these interludes are just that, just brief interludes and then you can go back into a dry pattern," he said.
Zarrow said that may be exactly what we’re facing right now.
“New Jersey's long-range rainfall forecast looks almost completely dry through the second half of September,” he said.
“Barring any big pattern change or tropical developments, drought impacts will continue to spiral downhill as we begin the fall season.”
Robinson noted parts of Burlington and central and northern Ocean counties actually taken a step backwards over the past couple of weeks because they got less rain than other areas in the state.