Climatologists Prepared To Call This Winter Season N.J.’s Harshest On Record

Walking lakewood storm(Lakewood winter photo) In this winter of weather misery, New Jersey has experienced it all: floods requiring evacuations, record snowstorms, major beach erosion, near-hurricane force winds, a month’s worth of rain in a day — and even mudslides. It is usually unwise to make generalizations in a state where weather patterns vary greatly by region. But this is a winter where you throw out the record books and rules of etiquette, so the state’s authority on weather is prepared to crown it New Jersey’s harshest on record. 

“The state has gotten pummeled from Cape May to High Point and all points in between,” New Jersey climatologist David Robinson said. “When we look back at this, it may actually the worst.”

Two more deaths were associated with the latest storm, a weekend nor’easter that dropped between 4 and more than 7 inches of rain on an already saturated state.

In addition to the two men killed when a tree fell on them in Teaneck on Saturday, two men died in their homes in Middlesex County over the weekend: One, in Carteret, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator while the other died as he tried to pump out his flooded basement, officials said.

In Somerset County, 600 residents were evacuated in Bound Brook. The rising Pompton River affected more than 1,000 homes in Pequannock and forced nearly 150 Lincoln Park residents from their homes. In Essex County, residents in Fairfield were being evacuated tonight as the Passaic River continued to rise.

The storm contributed to what was forecast to be the second-worst flooding on record along the Passaic River at Little Falls this morning. 

The usual suspects were pummeled by flooding this weekend, including Wayne, Manville and Bound Brook, where residents were evacuated from their homes by boats.

But many other towns were crying uncle to Mother Nature.

In Long Hill, Morris County, 7.75 inches of rain has fallen since Friday, while Franklin Township in Somerset County has been soaked 6.32 inches; Freehold, in Monmouth County, got 5.72 inches.

About 70,000 Public Service Electric & Gas customers remained without power late tonight, about two thirds of them in Bergen County, while Jersey Central Power & Light reported 9,200 homes and businesses without power.

JCP&L expects most power to be restored on Tuesday, and PSE&G said most of its customers should have their power back by Wednesday, but some might be without power until Thursday.

State environmental officials said beaches in Ocean and Monmouth counties suffered extensive erosion. Farther south, beaches at North Wildwood, Ocean City and Cape May City were hard hit, officials said.

Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for New Jersey, and weather-weary towns were calculating millions of dollars of damage.

Even before the nor’easter hit, New Jersey was having a winter for the ages.

February was the snowiest month on record, with many areas getting between 30 to 40 inches and West Milford and Vineland getting more than the previous record of 50.1 inches, which fell in Freehold in 1880 — when America had 38 states.

This is already the third-wettest winter on record, with 16.38 inches of rain and melted snow having fallen so far. That trails only the winter of 1978-79 (19.32 inches) and of 1914-15 (16.97 inches).

“There have been three storms this winter that dropped at least 20 inches of snow on some part of the state,” Robinson said. “I think you might have to go back to Colonial times to find that.”

The weekend nor’easter, the fourth major storm in the last six weeks during an El Nino winter, is indirectly being blamed for the death of a 49 year-old Carteret man who breathed carbon monoxide fumes from a portable generator Saturday as he sat in the basement of a home without power.

And in Edison, a 78-year-old man died after he fell unconscious while using a gas-powered pump to remove water from his basement during the weekend storm that had knocked out power to his home on Old Raritan Road, police said.

Neither man was identified.

In Sussex County, sections of Ogdensburg and Sparta were closed due to mudslides.

Downtown Bound Brook could have been mistaken for a set from a horror movie today afternoon, as dazed business owners wandered around, wondering how they would rebuild their shops after a third major flood in 11 years, dating to the devastating Hurricane Floyd of 1999. Residents peered from building tops, surveying the damage from above. Diesel engines and water pumps whirred, providing a score to the backdrop of mud-caked stores and debris-strewn streets.

As much as three feet of water filled several of the stores on Main Street when the Raritan River crested at 36 feet Sunday. Up to 700 homes were damaged.

Cindy Blitzer owns Berman’s Wallpaper and Design, a mainstay on Main Street for decades. She said she had more than two feet of water in her store Sunday, enough to destroy most of her inventory, carpeting and chairs.

“It doesn’t matter — one foot is the same as three feet,” she said “Paper expands when it gets wet and it’s ruined.” Star Ledger.

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  1. i would not call it harshest on record because i grew in lakewood, 25 years ago we used to have winters like this and worse every year

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