25% of New Jersey is now officially in drought status
Nearly a quarter of New Jersey is considered to be in a moderate drought as of Thursday.
The area now includes most of Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Union counties and part of Essex counties. It doubles the area from last week's report from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
"Parts of the drought-stricken area need about 6 inches of rain to make up the deficit incurred over the last 60 days. And with each dry day, the situation continues to get more serious," New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.
State Environmental Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said that while current water demands are being met and groundwater supplies are near normal everyone should be mindful of their water use.
“Although our reservoirs and other indicators are healthy, persistent hot and dry weather coupled with the high water demands of summer can quickly impact water supply. Simple steps, like reducing lawn and landscape watering, go a long way in preserving our water supplies and avoiding the necessity of significant restrictive measures," LaTourette said.
Voluntary water restrictions are in place for New Jersey American Water customers in Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties. A mandatory odd/even watering notice is in effect for the utility's Monmouth and Ocean county customers.
Middlesex Water customers were also asked to voluntarily conserve water.
Prospects for breaking the drought
Downpours with several inches of rain are not helpful because they tend to be localized, according to Zarrow. The best solution is a widespread long-duration soaking rain but that does not seem to be in the forecast through Sunday.
"Showers and thunderstorms are possible on each of the next four days — especially late-day Friday and late-day Saturday. It won't be the widespread drenching we need, deep moisture in the atmosphere will almost certainly produce pockets of heavy rain," Zarrow said.
There are some bright signs in the Climate Prediction Center Long Range Forecasts.
The 8-14 day precipitation outlook looks to be near normal for New Jersey and above normal for the seasonal precipitation outlook for August, September and October.