Early March Severe Weather In New Jersey

Good evening everyone. I continue to make the transition from basketball season to hurricane season with a posting that offers some thoughts on the very severe weather that struck the Garden State back on March 8th. The Nor’easter that brought the torrential rains, and the squall lines that accompanied the approaching cold front that trailed the storm were definitely memorable as captured on the GWC Webcam that day. Just as I write this commentary on the storm, I checked the data from Greg’s Weather Center for that day. The storm brought a bit more than an inch to my hometown. The wind speeds gradually picked up over the four day period of March 7-10, but they were obviously much higher than shown in the records kept.

Well, there are two reasons for the vast discrepancy in the wind speeds. One, the weather station is very close to the house, and has trees in the vicinity, which provides friction that slows down the wind. Two, the weather station is very close to the ground, where the winds are much lower than at a hundred feet or more up in the air. Anyway, the storm had its share of gusty winds for much of the day on Saturday, but after things had somewhat died down in the middle of the afternoon, they roared back with a vengeance as the day turned into night. At about 6:00 PM, the squall lines approached the Central Jersey area, and I was able to follow them on radar courtesy of the Weather Channel’s Weatherscan station on my cable television. As I worked on the GMC Hoops web site, the winds really began to pick up, and it brought the attention of my brother, who became quite alarmed at the situation.

As my brother began to notice the winds picking up, I could hear the rattle of the windows in the dining room, where I was doing my work. I turned to look outside, and I could see that the sky had grown dark. The wind was roaring at this point, and disappointingly, I froze as if I didn’t know what to do. I guess that I was quite startled by the ferocity of the winds since I didn’t expect them to get this strong. Many times I get reports of severe weather, and anticipate them with great earnest. Then, when the storm comes and goes without much fanfare, I’m often left disappointed. Not to say that I want something bad to happen, but you get very excited, and you prepare yourself for something big, and end up going away empty handed. Well, anyway, as I stood there, contemplating what to do, my brother and I looked at each other in disbelief at what was transpiring. After a little while, I finally got myself to turn off the computer, and get out of the dining room, and away from the windows. I then went to my room, and watched the Weatherscan for any new developments.

At that point, I noticed that there was a bulletin from the National Weather Service stating that a line of severe thunderstorms were moving through the area, and stretched from near Allentown, Pennsylvania to Trenton. Now, while there was no indication that tornadoes were associated with these storms, they did have a history of very strong winds associated with them. My mother then entered the house, and swore that it was a tornado that was coming through since she heard the sound of a freight train, which is often a characteristic of a twister coming through. My brother didn’t hear any such sound, but felt that the winds might be associated with a tornado. The wicked weather continued for the next several hours, and then eventually wound down except for the winds, which remained quite gusty into the next day. The storm also brought a dramatic drop in temperatures after it had been quite warm for such an early day in March.

March is often known as a month that comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb. Just two weeks earlier, New Jersey had its most significant snowstorm of the winter of 2007-08. In just 14 days, it went from pure winter to more like spring. The physics that occurs constantly during the course of the 365 days that this planet rotates around the sun were in motion, and moving toward the first day of Spring, which was to occur on March 19th. Ironically, that first day of the Vernal Equinox was greeted with a Nor’easter that didn’t have quite the punch in terms of rain and wind, but still had its share of rough weather with rainy conditions and strong winds. Following a peaceful Easter weekend, another storm threatened the Northeast, and brought about the possibility of snow for Tuesday. However, much to the relief of many in the region including the Central Jersey area, the storm took a more easterly route, and spared the area.

Compared to last winter, this year was much colder. If you recall, the month of January was quite balmy last year. This season brought its share of storms, but most of them were either rain or mixed bag situations. As a matter of fact, the snowfall that occurred on February 22nd actually equaled the amount to that point in the year, and doubled the season’s total. The weather last year actually became more wintry around this time, and especially took shape during the month of April with the development of a nasty Nor’easter that brought torrential rains to the Central Jersey area as well as the rest of the Garden State resulting in terrible floods to nearby communities such as Bound Brook and Manville. We’ll have to see whether or not the same holds for the Spring of 2008.