New York City was spared the more than a foot of snow meteorologists forecast but several inches falling across much of southern New Jersey on Monday was expected to place this season’s unrelenting winter as the eighth snowiest in the state in the last 120 years.
And there won’t be any relief Tuesday; forecasters say the snow will be followed by overnight temperatures dipping to 10 degrees with wind chills below zero in most of the state. While most New Jerseyans would agree that’s bitterly cold, forecasters say the temperatures this winter are considered super cold only by the standards of recent memory.
State climatologist David Robinson said the 30.7 degree average temperature for December through February was cold enough to make it just the 34th coldest winter in New Jersey since records began in 1894. But it was the coldest since the winter of 2002-2003 as the state has trended toward warmer temperatures throughout the year.
“It’s one of the more disruptive winters of the last several decades,” Robinson said. “But by no means is it the epic winter in terms of the amount of the snow that has fallen or the magnitude of the cold weather or the overall impact it has had on the state.”
And the timing of the storms has meant snow days galore at schools — around a half-dozen in many districts, enough that the makeup days are seriously eating into spring breaks. Gov. Chris Christie said last week that he would not waive the requirement that schools be open 180 days.
Before Monday’s storm, the winter’s average snowfall at New Jersey observation stations — weighted for geography — was 48.4 inches, good for No. 8 all-time.
Large but not overwhelming storms became a routine. Before Monday, New Jersey had five winter storms that left at least 10 inches of snow somewhere in the state. That’s a lot of snowy storms for New Jersey, Robinson said.
While earlier forecasts for Monday’s storm were calling for up to a foot in many spots, it turned out to be less punishing.
By midday, Pitman had 5.5 inches and forecasters were expecting the highest totals to be around 8 inches in parts of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem Counties.
Robinson said below-average temperatures are expected for the next two weeks, at least.