Whispy cirrus and contrails paint the sky in Piscataway (Middlesex County) early in the morning on April 6th. Photo by Dave Robinson.
Complaints are often brought to the Office of the State Climatologist that in recent years the weather in New Jersey has quickly transitioned from winter to summer, thus leaving little time for spring weather. Of course perceptions can be deceiving, as transitional months such as April typically have widely varying weather. At least for April 2015 no protests of a missing spring are warranted, as temperatures reached into the 60°s and 70°s for several days in each week of the month, yet minimums were at times in the 20°s and 30°s throughout April. There was only one major rainfall event, but there were occasional showers. A summer-like squall roared through the state late afternoon on the 22nd, followed the next day by daytime snow flurries. Now that is spring weather!
April was a rather dry month, with statewide precipitation averaging 2.74". This is 1.32" below the 1981-2010 average and ranks as the 32nd driest April since 1895 (121 years). The average temperature of 51.5° was 0.3° above average and is tied with 1958 and 1973 as the 36th mildest. An almost statewide freeze on the 25th did not appear to do much, if any, damage to emerging vegetation. Overall, the slow emergence of vegetation following the cold March jumped ahead to near-normal timing during a warm mid-month week, only to slow again during the cool last week of April.
Precipitation and storms
Monthly precipitation, as recorded by CoCoRaHS observers, was as high as 4.16" at Wildwood Crest (Cape May County). This was followed by 3.91" in Woodbine (Cape May), Pennsville (Salem) 3.84", Little Falls (Passaic) 3.77", Woodstown (Salem) 3.71", and Palisades Park (Bergen) 3.70". The driest locations were Long Branch and Eatontown, both in Monmouth County, where each received 1.64". Other low totals included Old Bridge (Middlesex) 1.69", Woodbridge (Middlesex) 1.72" and 1.82" (two stations), South River (Middlesex) 1.82", and Frenchtown (Hunterdon) 1.92". Only Wildwood Crest’s total exceeded the long-term statewide April normal. Therefore NJ was fortunate not to be hit with many wildfires in what is generally the most vulnerable season for such events. There were no reports of measurable snow across the state during April. Stay tuned for a winter season snow wrap up in a report that will be posted on the NJWxNet site later in May.
The snowfall of March 31 melted away in the hills of north Jersey by the 2nd. Franklin Township (Sussex) saw the end of 68 consecutive days with snow cover on the 2nd. Rain fell across the state during late in the evening of the 3rd into the predawn hours of the 4th, helping remove whatever snow patches remained at higher elevations. Montague (Sussex) caught 0.82", with Hardyston (Sussex) receiving 0.68" and Andover (Sussex) 0.66". Most of NJ saw less than 0.25" from this event. Scattered rain during the morning through evening of the 7th brought 0.85" to Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic), 0.75" to East Greenwich (Gloucester), and 0.74" to both Wildwood Crest and Medford Lakes (Burlington). The southern third of NJ saw the most rain, with all but central and northwest sectors catching at least 0.30". The 8th saw some freezing drizzle at higher elevations of the Kittatinny Ridge, including High Point (Sussex).
Overnight rain from the 9th into the 10th was accompanied by lightning and thunder from central counties down to Atlantic County. Cape May County received the most rain, with 0.61" in Upper Township, 0.58" in Cape May, and 0.56" at Wildwood Crest. 0.25"–0.50" totals were common along the coast and in the northwest, while less fell up the NJ Turnpike corridor. Heavy rain again visited Cape May County on the morning of the 14th. Totals in this southernmost county included Wildwood Crest 1.14", Sea Isle City 1.11" and 1.08" (two stations), and Woodbine 1.06". Under 0.30" fell elsewhere up to Interstate 195, with nothing to less than 0.10" over most of central and northern NJ.
The major rain event of the month occurred primarily in morning pulses on both the 20th and 21st. The northeast corner of the state was doused with 3.07" in Palisades Park, 3.03" in Little Falls, 2.95" at Cedar Grove (Essex), and 2.80" in Paterson (Passaic). Over 2.00" fell at 28 CoCoRaHS locations, with 66 stations receiving 1.50"–1.99", 78 from 1.00–1.49", and 34 from 0.50"–0.99". Only Long Branch at 0.44" and Brick Township (Ocean) with 0.49" were under 0.50". Thunder was heard late on the 20th into the 21st in portions of central and northern NJ. The Saddle River briefly spilled over its banks into Saddle River County Park in Saddle Brook (Bergen) on the 21st.
A strong squall line crossed the state during the mid to late afternoon of the 22nd. It was accompanied by lightning and briefly brought damaging winds, especially to the Interstate 195 corridor where trees fell onto homes and brought down power lines. Temperatures rapidly fell 15° to 20° as the front passed. The cold unstable air behind the front resulted in rounds of showers during the daylight hours of the 23rd. In portions of central and northern NJ, despite temperatures in the upper 30°s and low 40°s, the showers at times included snow, sleet, and graupel. The last week of the month was dry throughout the state, with low humidity, thus once again raising some fire concerns.
The lowest barometric pressure of the month was on the 4th, with most locations bottoming out between 29.45"–29.50". The highest pressure was in the 30.45"–30.50" range on the 16th.
Winds gusted to 40 mph or higher at one or more locations on 11 April days. Harvey Cedars (Ocean) started things off with a 40 mph gust on the 2nd. With low pressure in place, the 4th brought a 60 mph gust to High Point Monument (Sussex), 40–48 mph gusts to 14 NJWxNet locations, and gusts from 30–39 mph to 30 other stations. Winds calmed on the 5th, however, High Point Monument and Wantage (Sussex) each gusted to 43 mph. Cream Ridge (Monmouth) reached 45 mph on the 10th and the Monument 48 mph on the 11th. It was not until the 20th when winds again were gusty, this time along the coast where Sea Girt (Monmouth) reached 46 mph, Harvey Cedars 45 mph, and four other stations between 40–44 mph. Cream Ridge reached 40 mph on the 21st. The squall line on the 22nd produced gusts of 63 mph at Oswego Lake (Burlington), 54 mph at Berkeley Township (Ocean), 53 mph at both Silas Little (Burlington) and Red Lion (Burlington), and 51 mph in Stewartsville (Warren). Eight other stations gusted into the 40’s mph and 27 into the 30’s mph. The 23rd saw High Point Monument up to 43 mph, with 45 mph at the Monument. Wantage reached 42 mph on the 24th and 40 mph on the 28th.
In typical April fashion, the thermometer dipped below freezing at one or more locations on 17 April days, while daily maximums exceeded 70° on 13 days. Six days (6th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and 22nd) exceeded both thresholds somewhere in NJ. In two locations both marks were reached on the same day. This was accomplished at Pequest (Warren) on the 13th with a low of 30° and high of 74° and with 31°/70° on the 15th. Berkeley Township ranged from 32° to 73° on the 15th.
Seven days saw one or more station drop to 25° or lower. This includes 20° at High Point Monument and 21° at both High Point and Pequest on the 1st. 46 of the 53 reporting NJWxNet stations were at or below freezing that morning, with the mildest location being Bivalve (Cumberland) at 39°. Before proceeding it must be noted that the Walpack (Sussex) station, often the coldest in NJ on nights with radiational cooling, was out of commission from the 1st-25th.
The 2nd saw a low of 21° at Pequest and three other sites at 23°. Pequest was 22° on the 5th with three stations at 25°, and Pequest was 25° on the 6th. Pequest and Berkeley Township fell to 24° on the 12th, with these stations at 22° and 23°, respectively, on the 25th. Walpack returned on the 26th with a minimum of 23°.
Four NJWxNet stations failed to fall to the freezing mark during April, likely leaving them with their last spring freeze on March 29th. They include Bivalve, West Cape May (Cape May), Atlantic City Marina (Atlantic), and Harvey Cedars. Meanwhile, 40 NJWxNet stations fell to 32° or lower on April 25th, with six stations "mildest" at 36°.
Six of the 13 days exceeding 70° saw one or more NJWxNet stations reach at least 75°. This included Hamilton (Mercer) and Sicklerville (Camden) at 76° on the 6th, with Cherry Hill (Camden) at 75°. Hamilton topped out at 77° on the 13th, with four other stations at 76°. The 17th saw Greenwich (Cumberland) and Sicklerville at 76°. The warmest April day was the 18th, which brought the first 80° temperatures to 17 stations. This included Hamilton, Haworth (Bergen), and Hawthorne (Passaic) reaching 82°. Only six stations, all along the coast, stayed in the 60°s with Harvey Cedars the coolest at 65°.
Cherry Hill, Piney Hollow (Gloucester), and Sewell (Gloucester) reached 77° on the 20th. Basking Ridge (Somerset), Hamilton, and New Brunswick (Middlesex) topped out at 79° on the 29th, when the maximums of 69° at Atlantic City Marina and High Point Monument were the only ones out of the 70°s.