Wintry, warm, and very wet: NJ’s top weather stories of 2018
One of my favorite meteorological quotes comes from English writer, artist, and philospher John Ruskin: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
Well, whether you consider it good, bad, or otherwise, 2018 certainly delivered a wide variety of weather conditions to New Jersey. Yes it was a very busy year in the Townsquare Media New Jersey weather center! (For the record, this year I worked an extra 19 weekend, holiday, and vacation days due to impending or ongoing weather.)
Here are some of the most memorable and impactful weather events of the year. Special thanks to NJ State Climatologist Dave Robinson for much of the data that appears here. (Dr. Robinson and his staff created their own "best of 2018" list, focusing on both weather and climate — a top 11!)
I opted for a Top 8 this year, picking and choosing (and ranking) the storms and other events that truly defined New Jersey's weather in 2018. Here we go!
#8: Big February Warmup
On February 21, the thermometer hit 80 degrees in part of New Jersey. Yes, 80 in February! It was part of a 2-3 day streak of above-normal temperatures, a delightful mid-winter thaw.
That day of record warmth will always be memorable, and near and dear to my heart. On that 80-degree February day, my son Griffin was born! (And for the record, it was crazy hot in our hospital room!)
It was the second warmest February on record for New Jersey. And, even more notably, New Jersey's average temperature in February was warmer than in March!
#7: Cold Turkey
Some of the coldest days of 2018 fell on holidays. We rang in the New Year with a bitter arctic chill — as the ball dropped in Times Square, the temperature was in the single digits with a wind chill below zero.
Perhaps even more memorable was the cold and blustery Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday weekend. With morning lows in the teens and afternoon high temperatures stuck below freezing, we were 20 to 30 degrees below seasonal normal for late November. Brrr!
#6: Snow Bomb
2018 started off not only cold, but also snowy. Non-meteorologists across the Garden State learned a new term — bombogenesis! According to the Glossary of Meteorology, a bomb is "an extratropical surface cyclone with a central pressure that falls on the average at least 1 millibar per hour for 24 hours".
In other words, a very strong storm system.
And strong it was. Coastal New Jersey got smacked with double-digit snowfall totals on January 3. Top snow report was 19.5 inches from Brick Township, Ocean County. My forecast for this storm (linked above) was the top-clicked post for the entire year in the CMDZ Weather Blog.
#5: #Snowvember and #Brinegate
This one makes the list not only because it was a powerful early season nor'easter, but also because of the political backlash that followed.
Initially, we expected this storm to bring heavy snow to the northwest, with a hazardous wintry mix of snow, ice, and rain across the rest of inland New Jersey. For days, we stressed that the evening commute of Thursday, November 15 would get very messy. Ultimately, colder temperatures and a stronger-than expected storm led to a snowy nightmare on the roads, as commuters were stranded for hours due to untreated and unplowed roads.
The response that followed — both from the state government, and from the public — were unlike anything I've ever seen before.
#4: Jersey Shore, Underwater Again
The Jersey Shore experienced several severe flooding, saltwater inundation, and beach erosion events in 2018. Each was caused by a powerful nor'easter (January 3-4, March 2, March 12-14, March 20-22, November 16) or hurricane (Florence: early September, Michael: mid October).
The biggest coastal flood event of the year occurred in late October, as yet another nasty nor'easter spawned several inches of rain and wind gusts up to 67 mph across New Jersey.
Several tidal gauges registered the highest water levels since Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. That included the Shark River at Belmar (under the Route 35 bridge), which crested at 8.64 feet — the third highest on record behind Irene (8.91 feet) and Sandy (13.51 feet).
Much of the Jersey Shore remained in the moderate or major flood categories for the duration of the storm, with back bay flooding continuing for almost a week after the initial crest.
#3: Little Falls, Big Flood
More flooding on the list, this time as a result of ridiculously heavy rain. This was one of New Jersey's most violent weather events of 2018, that also produced some of the most dramatic videos and photos of the year.
The top rainfall total on Saturday, August 11 was 5.12 inches at West Caldwell, Essex County. (And by the way, the following day was even wetter with numerous 5+ inch rainfall reports around Ocean County.)
Remember the incredible flash flood that washed away a car dealership's inventory in Little Falls, Passaic County? And the bride in Bogota, Bergen County who had to be rescued from the roof of her submerged car? Incredible.
#2: March: Nor'easter Mania
March is a month that I will never forget. And one that I'd prefer never to repeat in my meteorological career.
Not 1... Not 2... Not 3... But 4 nor'easters in a row! Talk about March roaring like a lion.
The first storm brought not only snow, but big wind: Harvey Cedars, Ocean County registered a wind gust of 62 mph. The second of the four was the snowiest, with over 20 inches of snow in parts of Sussex, Passaic, and Morris counties. (And thundersnow!) The combination of strong winds and heavy snow led to widespread power outages throughout the month.
#1: Wet, Wet, Wet, Wet, Wet
No surprise here. Somewhere in New Jersey saw measurable rain or snow on almost half of all days this year (at least 180 out of 365). That's insane. Final totals are not in yet, but 2018 may surpass 2011 as New Jersey's wettest year on record.
I think we "felt" the soggy weather the most during the summer season. All but a few weekends were partial or total washouts, and periods of wet weather almost always alternated with heat and humidity.
New Jersey experienced above-normal precipitation in 10 out of the 12 months of 2018 (all but January and June). Hey, at least we won't have to deal with drought conditions for a while.
Happy New Year!
And so we close the climatological record books on another year. Here's hoping for sunny skies and mild weather in 2019!