Winter with no snow — will NJ able to handle summer water demand?
🌨 Snow doesn't have a major impact on water levels
🌨 New Jersey reservoirs can benefit from a top-off of precipitation
🌨 This could go down as the least snowy winter in NJ history
New Jersey could use some more precipitation — snow or rain — in order to stave off any potential drought concerns as we enter spring and prepare for summertime water demand.
But in the second week of March, New Jersey is "holding its own" when it comes to water levels, despite a winter with virtually no significant snow events, according to New Jersey State Climatologist Dave Robinson at Rutgers.
"New Jersey isn't too reliant on snowpack to meet its water needs," Robinson said. "In fact, even in a snowy winter, over half of our precipitation falls as rain."
Across the months of December, January and February, the Garden State typically receives a total of about 10.5 inches of rain and melted snow. New Jersey saw a little more than 10 inches total from the start of December 2022 through the end of February.
According to Robinson, last month was New Jersey's 11th-driest February on record, going back nearly 130 years.
"We just need precipitation, whether it's in liquid or frozen form, to fill our reservoirs, to recharge our groundwater, get our streams flowing, during the cool portion of the year, so that we're in good shape water-wise when it comes to the water consumption season," Robinson said.
Overall, reservoir levels in New Jersey are right around where they should be, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
New Jersey would benefit from ample rain that can refill its water supply, but in the short term, Robinson said, precipitation can help limit the frequency and severity of wildfires.
Levels have not climbed in the last month or so. New Jersey entered February with reservoir levels slightly above normal.
"If we get dry in March and into April, we're not going to be able to to top off our reservoirs," Robinson said.
A wind-swept forest fire in Little Egg Harbor consumed more than 400 acres on Tuesday. Peak forest fire season in New Jersey typically starts in April, according to DEP.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow says a storm system on Friday will result in showers, or snow/wintry mix in spots. Some precipitation is expected on Saturday as well. Then another system is expected to drop rain and/or snow on Monday.
As of Feb. 28, this winter has produced the second lowest amount of snowfall on record in New Jersey. If no appreciable snow drops for the remainder of the season, this will likely go down as the least snowy winter in recorded New Jersey history.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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