Did New Jersey break state snow record? 35 inches may be top mark, investigation underway
MOUNT HOLLY - The snow just kept on coming, as Monday's record-breaking and slow-moving winter storm hammered the entire state throughout the day Tuesday — bringing a combination of intense snowfall of more than 30 inches recorded in Morris and Sussex counties, winds as high as 63 mph, hundreds of accidents and significant flooding issues along the coast.
As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, Mount Arlington Borough in Morris County led the pack with a jaw-dropping 35.1 inches of snow accumulation, according to a report sent to the National Weather Service. If this is confirmed, this total inch count would break New Jersey's all-time snowstorm record in a 24-hour span, which was set by Rutherford in Bergen County in April 1915, when 32 inches of snow was recorded.
If this count is confirmed, this total would also close in on the state's all-time record for most accumulation recorded during one storm, which has been held by Cape May County in the February 1899 snowstorm, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information. Residents saw up to 34 inches of snow during that storm.
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A strict verification process by weather officials will be needed to confirm if this storm broke the records, according to New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson, who is also a Rutgers University professor whose office tracks climate data and other records.
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"The storm hasn't ended, so a full assessment can't be made at this time, and any totals recorded at this time are preliminary, not fully confirmed yet," Robinson said. "Any potential records that are broken, especially statewide records, will have to go through a full investigation by the National Centers for Environmental Information."
Robinson said all snow recordings must be taken by a trained spotter, who reports the exact measurement using the correct procedure to measure snow, and even then, it must still be verified by weather officials.
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Not far behind Montague is Chester Township in Morris County and Sparta Township in Sussex County, where residents saw up to 31 inches and 30.3 inches of accumulation during the storm as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Mount Arlington and Randolph, both in Morris County, recorded up to 28 inches of snow or just a little more by Tuesday afternoon, forecasters said. Stanhope in Sussex County also recorded 28 inches of accumulation with light snow continuing to fall throughout the day.
Additional areas across northeast New Jersey, including Bergen, Essex and Union counties saw anywhere between 15 to 22 inches of accumulation, forecasters said. As of 2 p.m. Monday, Edison recorded 22.5 inches, but this was expected to change when forecasters release updated totals.
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In Central Jersey and the Shore, snow remained a concern, but gusty winds between 45 to 60 mph made shoveling driveways almost impractical. Metuchen in Middlesex County saw up to 19.7 inches of snow accumulate, while Middletown in Monmouth County recorded 17 inches of snow.
Heading toward the southern part of the state, snow was not a major problem. Camden, Cumberland and Gloucester counties all saw less than half a foot of snow throughout the day.
But the main concern for the south, along with most of Ocean County, was the intense heavy rainfall combined with gusty winds which resulted in major coastal flooding across hundreds of local streets, forecasters said. Many low-lying coastal areas also have reported tidal flooding.
Bay Head recorded a wind gust of 63 mph Monday afternoon, according to the weather service. Tide heights at Sandy Hook were forecast to reach 8.6 feet, which is 0.1 feet away from what is considered major flood stage.
Tidal flooding had continued overnight and throughout Tuesday, with the weather service saying regardless of exact water levels, the combination of multiple tide cycles of moderate to near major flooding will continue to produce significant impacts.
Robinson, the state's climatologist, said he doesn't believe the storm would add up to the January 2016 storm. During that time, a number of locations in North Jersey received totals of 2 feet or more, and every county, excluding Cape May, received a foot or more of snow.
"So you get the idea that while this storm certainly is a noteworthy one in the northern half of New Jersey and somewhat of note along the coast, it doesn't equal some of the worst former ones," Robinson said.
Gov. Phil Murphy's state of emergency was still in effect from Sunday night, as he has already issued strong warnings for people on the roads during the storm.
New Jersey State Police responded to 743 accidents and 1,362 motorist aid calls statewide as of 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, and more than 3,900 pieces of Department of Transportation equipment were out on the roads. A tractor-trailer driver was issued a summons after his truck jackknifed on Route 80 in Hope.
But the storm's not done yet.
Tuesday's forecast will not be as intense, with the brunt of the storm expected to exit the state by the afternoon hours, according to the National Weather Service. However, most of New Jersey can still expect to see a mix of light, wintry precipitation.
The major concern for Tuesday will be black ice, with temperatures expected to be at or just below freezing for the coast and mid teens to low 20s for the interior, forecasters said. Winds are expected to calm down, but will still hover around 25 to 35 mph in most areas.
Additionally, forecasters say an inch or two of snow accumulation is possible for some areas across northern and central New Jersey throughout the day.
"Periods of light snow are expected to linger into Tuesday morning across the entire area," the National Weather Service said. "Some light snow accumulation (1 to 2 inches) is forecast for the daytime hours on Tuesday, especially along, north and east of the I-95 corridor as the storm departs."
Aside from Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties, all winter advisories and warnings in place have been extended until 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Snow and icy roads will impact the morning and evening commute, as forecasters are still advising all residents to stay home until the streets are fully clear from slippery conditions.
Winds are expected to diminish as the storm rolls out and any lingering light snow will diminish into the overnight hours, forecasters said.
Joshua Chung is the 9-5 breaking news and weather reporter. A lifelong Jersey Shore resident, he is a graduate of Michigan State University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-703-9373 or on Twitter @Joshchunggg