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NJ Climatologist: Drought Helped Ease Flooding

Passaic River (Credit: CBS 2)

Passaic River (Credit: CBS 2)

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (AP) – The heavy rain of the past two days is filling up New Jersey’s reservoirs and easing fears of a drought, the state’s climatologist said.

David Robinson called the storm “enormously helpful,” adding it will go a long way toward solving short and midterm problems with drinking water supplies in the state.

“This is a reservoir-filler,” Robinson said. “It’s tremendously welcome, and it came without any major river flooding.”

Robinson said the fact that rivers and streams were so low due to the drought actually saved New Jersey from serious flooding. He said the Delaware region and eastern Pennsylvania picked up the most rain from the storm.

“The saving grace was that we were dry and the rivers were low before this,” he said. “If that had not been the case, we would be looking at historic flooding on the Delaware right now.”

New Jersey has been locked in a seven-month long dry pattern and is under a drought watch. The watch does not come with mandatory statewide water restrictions, although some local communities have imposed them.

Robinson said he would not be surprised to see the state Department of Environmental Protection lift the drought watch within a week or so, after examining reservoir levels. A DEP spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.

“We’re going to have to see if this breaks the pattern of drought,” Robinson said. “If we return to a more normal pattern of rainfall, then this will put us in excellent shape. But if it’s an aberration, if it’s just one and done, we could be back in the same situation in a few months.”

The heaviest rainfall amounts were reported in Warren County as of Friday morning. Allamuchy Township had gotten 7.26 inches of rain from the storm that began early Thursday. Greenwich Township had 7.17 inches, Liberty Township had 7.08 and Independence Township 6.84 inches.

Holland Township in Hunterdon County saw 6.72 inches, Blairstown in Warren County got 6.63 inches, Knowlton in Warren County got 6.33 inches, and Stockton in Hunterdon County got 6.33. West Milford in Passaic County got just under 6 inches.

Not everyone shared in the rainfall’s benefits.

“The real losers in this were the shore counties, particularly the southern shore,” Robinson said.

Cape May County received sparse rainfall, with Sea Isle City registering 0.54 inches, Middle Township registering 0.55 inches, Woodbine getting 0.57 inches and Wildwood Crest getting 0.62.

Rainfall in Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties averaged about 2 inches.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)