With several significant rain storms over the past few months, you would probably think New Jersey’s reservoirs have been completely replenished from the abnormally dry summer, but it turns out that is not the case.

According to state climatologist Dave Robinson, we are still in somewhat of a precarious situation.

He said the U.S. Drought Monitor still has areas of Northwest and Southern Jersey in a moderate drought condition or abnormally dry and “the state, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, is still in a drought watch. We just haven’t climbed out of the summer dryness we experienced.”

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More rain needed

“We actually had below-average precipitation in November," Robinson said. "We didn’t get the soaking rains we would have liked to have seen to really help continue replenishing our groundwater.”

Robinson said conditions have improved somewhat in Central Jersey "but we still haven’t gotten those soaking rains, time and again to really relieve all our concerns.”

“The reservoirs still aren’t where we’d like them but there’s no drought staring us in the face in Central Jersey,” he said.

He said nobody is watering their lawns or using water to grow fruits and vegetables in December and we rely on this time of the year to replenish the levels of our reservoirs, “which are normally down 20% or 30% during the summer due to our water use, and this summer were down more like 30% to 40%:09 we’ve got a little bit more to make up.”

Robinson said hopefully we’ll get some significant snowfall this winter.

We need snow

“That can be really beneficial if it behaves itself if you will, as it melts, it melts slowly, it doesn’t melt in one warm spell, it doesn’t melt when it’s accompanied by rain.”

He said if we can get a couple of inches of water locked up in a snowpack “and melted out slowly into unfrozen soils, that can be wonderful means of replenishing groundwater and getting that water to flow into our reservoirs.”

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In early October, the remnants of Hurricane Ian swept through parts of the Garden State bringing significant rainfall along parts of the coast, and last month the remnants of Hurricane Nicole also came across areas of New Jersey. But more precipitation is needed to make up for the summer deficit.

He said the deficit we face now could be categorized as sneaky because no one’s lawn is turning brown and leaves are not falling off of trees from a lack of rainfall.

“We really have to keep a careful eye on things, it’s much more evident to the public during the summer when we’re facing a drought watch scenario.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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