Wacky weather leaves record rainfall and concerns about drought

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jun 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-13 22:26:40-04

NORTHERN NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — A near-record number of lightning strikes, including a direct hit on the building of a well-known charity, as well as high wind gusts, deluges of rain, and even sunshine marked a very wild day of weather in the Tri-State region Thursday.

Ironically, even though the wide variety of weather conditions in our area most heavily featured rain, the high precipitation in our region so far this month actually has some emergency managers talking about a deficit of rainfall.

First, the rain.  Two storms blew through the area Thursday, the first being a thunderstorm, featuring heavy rain and lightning that was particularly intense in Central and South Jersey.

The most graphic demonstration of that was uploaded onto YouTube from a camera inside the Kars for Kids charity in Lakewood, New Jersey.  Around 11:00 A.M., lightning directly hit the headquarters of the organization that uses the proceeds from donated cars to pay for programs for children.

There was a man outside of the building in the parking lot who can be seen in the video.  He ran for cover and was not injured.

The lightning strike was was part of a group of hundreds of strikes that hit our area late Thursday morning.   The storm blew through Central and South Jersey, then went out to sea.

It was part of a day that saw radically changing atmospheric conditions.  After the thunderstorm blew through, patches of blue sky were visible, and even some sun for a short time.

A much larger storm, the so-called derecho line of intense atmospheric activity, was expected in our region, but instead moved south to the Mid-Atlantic states.

Workers at Bergen County Emergency Management Center in Mahwah were monitoring the storms very closely from their two state-of-the-art command centers.

The director of emergency management, Police Chief Brian Higgins, said that New Jersey had really dodged a bullet from the storms, despite the shellacking by lightning earlier in the day.

He noted that this has been an intense month of rainfall, possibly the third or fourth wettest June on record, even though the month isn’t even halfway over. Despite that fact, Chief Higgins told PIX11 News, he has to think about a lack of rainfall.

The reason for that is directly related to the surplus of rain the region is getting right now.  By order of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, Chief Higgins said, the local water utility, United Water, released some of the water in its reservoir in order to prevent flooding.

However, said Chief Higgins, “If you lower the levels too much, and we don’t have much rain for the rest of the summer, we’re going to hit a drought.”