The fast-receding year will be the third warmest on record in New Jersey.
Globally, 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded.
Human-induced global warming was partially responsible, said state climatologist Dave Robinson.
“Added to that was also a natural phenomenon, El Niño,” he said Thursday. “We had one of the strongest El Niños of the last century … taking heat from the ocean and putting it into the atmosphere.”
It was also a dry year.
“About 5 inches below average statewide for precipitation. About 10 inches in North Jersey below normal,” Robinson said. “And if you go to far South jersey in Cape May County, they’re actually a couple inches above for the year.”
The water levels in reservoirs in North and Central Jersey are about 10 percent below where they should be now.
“Reservoir levels are coming up as they often do during the winter, but not at a fast enough pace to get back up to normal,” Robinson said. “We need to make up that 10 percent deficit come late winter, early spring.”
A drought watch in 14 North Jersey counties has been in effect since October.
Above-normal rainfall will be needed over the next few months to avoid potential restrictions on water use in the spring, Robinson said.