No Drought Worries This Fall in NJ — But Just Watch Out For Fires
After a wet summer, New Jersey’s drought warning was finally lifted in the middle of August.
Ever since then, however, it’s been on the dry side.
“We’ve not had a statewide soaking rain in about a month, and virtually no drops of rain have fallen since the 19th of September,” said Dave Robinson, the New Jersey State Climatologist at Rutgers University.
“That’s a pretty long stint without rain, particularly when conditions were well above normal temperature-wise in the last half of September.”
Robinson also pointed out “the month of September as a whole only ranked 27th driest of the last 123 Septembers, and it was the 9th warmest September on record."
The good news is reservoir levels are still in good shape because water consumption levels have dropped and many plants are now dormant.
So how much rain do we need to maintain our water supplies?
“What we’d really hope for is something near average conditions, which is generally in the range of 3-1/2 inches a month between now and next spring.”
He said while it’s always a good idea to be careful how you use water, “the greatest danger that we’re going to have to keep an eye out for, unless we get some rain soon, would be fire danger.”
“You’re going to have the leaves start falling off the trees, that’s tinder for fire, that’s going to be a concern.”
According to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, the fire danger level is high in parts of eight counties and it’s classified as moderate in 10 others.
“The higher temperatures help increase evaporation, which dries things out even faster. Add to that the fact that some of the grasses are drying out which makes them more flammable, and dry leaves are starting to fall."
He’s quick to point out that can be remedied quickly by a couple of good soaking rains.
Robinson estimated it would be several months before we would have significant concerns about water supplies in the region, even with lower than normal rainfall.