This was NJ’s snowiest spot in 2023, but that’s not saying much
It's that time of year, when we recap, summarize, and reminisce. And what a year of weather 2023 brought us! This is part of a series analyzing New Jersey's temperatures, precipitation, snowfall, and top weather events across the year.
This time around, I'm talking about 2023 snowfall. Or the lack thereof.
This is going to be a very easy analysis to write. Last winter was a dud, due largely to La Nina conditions suppressing winter storms. And this snow season, we have yet to pick up our first inch of accumulation. That leaves more than half of New Jersey with little to no snowfall in the record book for this year.
In a typical winter season, northern New Jersey picks up a total of 40 to 50 inches of total snowfall. Meanwhile, to the extreme south, the annual average is closer to 10 to 15 inches. (Thanks to the Office of the NJ State Climatologist for those numbers>)
It should be no surprise to anyone that, as of this writing, every corner of New Jersey has experienced below-normal snowfall for 2023. (Note: Usually we talk about "seasonal" snow totals, but "annual" totals can be relevant too.)
Let's dig into some snow data, to see just how non-winter-ish this year has been. My numbers, facts, and figures come from the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) by the Northeast Regional Climate Center and the Winter 2022-2023 Storm Totals page from the NJ State Climate Office.
(Note: I am aware that the year is not quite done yet. My analysis is complete as of December 3rd, which I when I pulled and tabulated these totals. If needed, I will come back and update this post after 2023 is done.)
Top Annual Snowfall
Congratulations, Sussex County — you were the snowiest spot in the state in 2023.
Surprising absolutely no one. Given the elevation and latitude, the northern tip of NJ is almost always the snowfall hot spot.
Of course, the word "snowiest" is relative — even the "snow zone" of North Jersey ended up almost two feet below normal snowfall this year.
A CoCoRaHS observer near Sparta Township, Sussex County actually had the biggest January to December total snowfall reading at 27.5". Just behind that was Highland Lakes, Sussex County at 26.8".
Rounding out the top five were Charlotteburg Reservoir, Passaic County at 19.3"; Jefferson Township, Morris County at 19.2"; and Mount Olive, Morris County at 18.9".
Hardly Any Snow
South of about Interstate 195, an inch or less of snow fell during the entire 2022-23 winter season.
Snow totals in 2022-23 were even more pitiful than in 2019-20, which South Jersey dubbed "The Winter That Wasn't".
The Biggest Snow Storm
Of the five 2+ inch snow events in New Jersey so far in 2023, the most significant was February 27-28.
There was also a late-season storm on March 10-11 that featured NJ's highest single storm snowfall observation of the season: 9.0" at Highland Lakes, Sussex County..
The Great Snow Storm Count
One of my favorite barometers of how active (or not) a winter season is in New Jersey is the number of 2+ inch snow events. In other words, the number of times someone in the state had shovelable snow accumulation.
Looking at the last decade of snow storm counts, there has been a noticeable dip in annual activity since 2020.
How many snowflakes will New Jersey see in 2024? Only time will tell. Needless to say, it will not be difficult for 2024 to outperform 2023.
While many seasonal forecasts are full of vague generalities and straight-up baloney. However, a strong El Nino signature foretells of more cold snaps and snowier setups, especially in the back half of the winter season. If a coastal storm (nor'easter) storm track sets up, there is a chance we get walloped at some point — remember, it only takes one big storm to make a winter season especially memorable.
Let it snow: 12 things to know about winter forecasting in NJ
Gallery Credit: Dan Zarrow
First flakes: When does snow season start in NJ?
Gallery Credit: Dan Zarrow