It may not feel like it with the cold temperatures and biting wind of the last few days, but 2012 was the warmest year on record for New Jersey.
State climatologists say the average temperature was around 55.9 degrees, the highest since record keeping began in 1895 and nearly 4 degrees above normal.
“Jersey has been baking,” said David Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist and a professor at Rutgers University. “And there’s really no signs overall that it should stop.”
Robinson said the 2012 increase was largely due to above-normal winter temperatures. February was 7.4 degrees above normal and the state saw the warmest March on record, with temperatures more than 8 degrees above normal. Over the past 24 months, 22 months have seen above-average temperatures, Robinson said.
But don’t expect to retire snow shovels and winter coats. Robinson said November was colder than normal, and temperatures this week are right around average, with even colder weather expected later this week.
“The fact is November was cool and relatively snowy in parts of the state,” he said. “So it’s not like we’re becoming Miami Beach.”
Warmth wasn’t the only wild weather pattern to hit New Jersey this year.
Superstorm Sandy was the “most momentous weather event in modern times” in New Jersey, Robinson said, a rare storm when two systems converged upon one another.
The storm, which hit New Jersey on Oct. 29, devastated the shore and caused widespread damage throughout the state. Gov. Chris Christie estimates it will cost $37 billion to recover and rebuild. Forty people in the state died during the storm.
New Jersey saw a rare derecho _ a violent line of fast-moving thunderstorms _ move through in June, causing winds to gust as high as 81 miles per hour. Five people died during that storm.
There was also a series of severe thunderstorms that hit the state from June to September. November brought an unseasonably early snowstorm, with as much as 13 inches of snow falling in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Despite the severe storms, 2012 was the driest year in New Jersey since 2001, with precipitation 3.94 inches below normal.
Any one of these weather events would have been notable, said Anthony Gigi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, N.J. To have all within a 12-month span is unprecedented, he said.
“It almost was like a soap opera character that gets married or divorced 7 or 8 times,” Gigi said. “You blend life experiences from 7-8 people in one person and in 2012 you blended a number of extreme events into one given year.”