Record Wet & Close to Record Warm

2011 Summary of New Jersey Weather

Rutgers professor David A. Robinson is the New Jersey State Climatologist, providing monthly, seasonal and annual summaries of New Jersey's weather to state residents. If you think 2011 in New Jersey was a roller coaster ride with respect to climate, you would be correct. Below are highlights from Robinson's summary for 2011. For the full report, go to http://climate.rutgers.edu/stateclim.

Photo: Gloucester County students taste locally grown vegetables. A backyard weather station in Central NJ on Jan 27, 2011 following a 17.7" snowfall that brought the depth of snow on the ground to 20" at this location.

Annual 2011 Overview

To say that those of us residing in the Garden State experienced a wealth of weather and climate extremes in 2011 is an understatement. Memorable events have been chronicled in individual monthly and seasonal statements on the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist (ONJSC) website. In the following paragraphs, a synopsis of annual temperature and precipitation observations is provided, followed by the ONJSC's take on the top ten events of 2011.

Copious amounts of precipitation fell across New Jersey in 2011. While the remarkable rains of August and early September played a major role in making this the wettest year on record for the state, only three months had below average precipitation. The annual statewide total of 64.84" is almost 5" above the previous record and is 17.90" above the 1981-2010 average [View Chart]. August was the wettest of any month on record, with 17.22" accumulating (13.01" above average), shattering the previous monthly record of 11.98" in October 2005. Only one consecutive 12-month interval has been wetter than this calendar year: the 66.60" of rain that fell from April 2009 to March 2010. This is out of 1392 such intervals during the past 117 years! April 2011 was the 10th wettest on record, while the summer of 2011 was the wettest in New Jersey.

Photo: Gloucester County students taste locally grown vegetables. People canoe down Route 18 near Commercial Avenue in New Brunswick on August 29, as the Raritan River began to recede from its near record (just behind 1999) crest.

No portion of the state remained untouched by the heavy precipitation, with the notable exception of several locations in Cape May County where only 39.07" fell in Wildwood Crest and 40.35" at a Middle Township station. Normally the wettest area of New Jersey, the Northern Highlands did not disappoint in 2011. While records require some additional scrutiny, it appears that the annual totals at five stations in this region exceeded the previous state record for precipitation at an individual location. As listed in Ludlum's New Jersey Weather Book, Paterson with 85.99" in 1882 had long held the record. However it is likely that a station in West Milford (Passaic) with 90.65" will assume top honors (subject to the approval of an extremes committee overseen by the National Climatic Chart Center). [View Chart]. All but the New Brunswick and Newark observations are from CoCoRaHS observers. Unfortunately, there wasn't a Union County observer with a complete enough record to generate an annual total

Photo: Gloucester County students taste locally grown vegetables. A visible image of New Jersey and nearby environs during the mid morning of October 30, following the record snowstorm of the previous day. The northern half of NJ is covered with several inches to well over a foot of snow, while the southern areas are snow free.

The 2011 annual average temperature in New Jersey was close to a record breaker. The 55.2° statewide average is 2.0° above the 1981-2010 mark and 3.0° above the 1895-2010 average. It ranks as the 3rd warmest of the last 117 years, only exceeded by 1998 and 2006, and pushes 2010 back to 4th place [View Chart]. Four of the top 10 years for warmth have occurred in the past 10 years, and eight of the 10 since 1990.

Top ten lists are always subject to debate, be it due to those events included or excluded, along with the order of the ranking. Robinson and colleagues would love to hear New Jersey residents’ comments on the 2011 list below  at support@climate.rutgers.edu. Keep in mind that among the important criteria for making the top ten list was  events with widespread impacts. You may have experienced a severe storm at some point that was mainly localized, leaving a memory for you, but perhaps not many others. Also, when considering statewide records, remember that they extend back to 1895.

  1. Wettest year for NJ (wettest station over a calendar year)
  2. Tropical Storm Irene: August 27-28 (3rd wettest rainstorm, record flooding)
  3. Wettest month on record for NJ: August (wettest 2 consecutive months: Aug-Sep)
  4. Snowstorm: October 29-30
  5. Third warmest year for NJ (11 months above average; 7 in the top 10 for their month)
  6. Second hottest month on record: July (including top 10 hottest day: July 22)
  7. Snowstorm: January 26-27
  8. Snowiest January on record for NJ
  9. Back to back rain storms March 6-7, 10-11 (major flooding)
  10. Ice storm: February 1-2

For those seeking more detailed information on hourly, daily and monthly conditions, visit the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist (ONJSC) website.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences