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NJ State Climatologist Calls Freezing Temps ‘Run of the Mill Cold Wave’

1-24-13

The temperatures have dipped below levels New Jersey hasn’t seen in years and the temperatures may not get above freezing until Monday. New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the cold snap is likely part of a normal weather pattern.

Robinson said that the jet stream can be blamed for the freezing temperatures. “We just had a release of some very cold arctic air. The jet stream dipped down to our south and it just allowed a load of cold air to come in from the arctic. It’s been poised up there all winter long. It slipped into northern New England and northern New York a few times but it hadn’t really burst loose down to New Jersey until this week,” he said. “It’s hit us with a vengeance.”

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While the Garden State hasn’t seen temperatures this cold in several years, Robinson said he believes this cold snap is a natural happening. “This is, if you will, a run of the mill cold wave for the middle of winter. There’s no real sense yet that the frequency of this has changed greatly. There’s nothing of really record breaking magnitude of this event. It’s just something we haven’t seen very often in a month which until Sunday was running six degrees above normal and it was preceded by the fifth warmest December in the last 119 years of record around New Jersey,” he said. “So part of this is the shock of us just not being used to it. … We’re running 15 degrees below average.”

Even though we are in a pattern of warming with the last 10 years warmer than any other 10 years on record, Robinson said cold weather isn’t a thing of the past.

“We’re still going to see winter in the future, in the decades ahead. It’s just going to be these cold snaps won’t be as frequent or they won’t be as intense. So the cold will get a little milder and the mild will get a little milder. So there’s nothing all that unusual about having some cold air come down here and we may pop a snowstorm or two as the winter progresses,” Robinson said. “Don’t consider this the end of winter when it just warms up early next week. It looks like the start of February’s going to be on the cold side as well.”