NJ’s severe drought conditions expand in latest report

New Jersey officially remains on drought watch, but with continued hot, dry weather and falling water levels, the state Department of Environmental Protection may soon be forced to issue a drought warning. drought, with mandatory water restrictions.

The latest US Drought Monitor report for New Jersey shows that most areas of the state are now classified as experiencing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, while areas classified as experiencing severe drought have expanded. .

Parts of Essex, Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset counties are all classified as experiencing severe drought, while the whole of Union County is experiencing severe drought, according to the report.

With water levels continuing to drop, it’s a situation that just keeps getting worse, said Dave Robinson, New Jersey State climatologist at Rutgers University.

“You don’t like to see the rate at which our reservoirs are losing volume, our river flow is very low, our groundwater is low statewide,” he said.

Robinson said that normally in June, July and August, the state gets about a foot of precipitation, but that certainly hasn’t been the case this year.

“There are areas of the state that are performing well at less than 50% of normal over the past three months, and areas that are doing better, they are barely up, if average,” Robinson said.

Dry and hot

Robinson pointed out that last month, when there was very little rain, was the sixth hottest July in New Jersey since 1895 and that August was also very hot.

“It only makes a bad situation worse by drying things up further.”

Robinson said that although the state had below average rainfall this year, we had a very wet April and May.

“It was our saving grace, as we entered the summer with replenished water resources.”

He noted that we hadn’t had a good pouring rain in months, just random scattered showers. Also, the tropical season is getting off to a very slow start and has not yet brought any moisture to our region, and as a result, we are now in a somewhat precarious position.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Are you hoping for a tropical storm?

New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow says we’re not going to get out of this overnight.

“It takes a long dry spell to officially put us in drought. Similarly, it takes a big shift in pattern to pull us out of the drought hole. We would need several days of washout and/or a tropical storm to really make a dent in this summer’s rainfall deficit.

Another cause for concern is how current conditions could impact New Jersey’s upcoming crops.

“I also remain concerned about the impacts of the drought on the harvest season this fall,” Zarrow said. “We need rain. Desperately.”

And while it doesn’t appear to be, Robinson said there is a silver lining.

“We’re at the end of summer, and over time, we’re going to start to see temperatures start to drop, we’re going to see the growing season end, and there’s going to be less water use in the outdoors,” Robinson said. .

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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