Looking Back At The Severe Weather Outbreak Of September 2010


By Greg Machos
July 13, 2012

Recently, there has been a rash of severe weather around the Garden State, which has prompted GWC to reminisce on past severe weather events. An article looking back on the Labor Day Storm of 1998 was posted to the site on Thursday. Continuing to recollect, Greg's Weather Center takes a look back at another severe weather event that impacted Middlesex County.

The severe weather outbreak that affected the Garden State in mid-September 2010 kicked off a violent weather onslaught that lasted 13 months. Powerful weather systems blitzed the state with all kinds of weather including strong to severe thunderstorms, high winds, tornadoes, heavy rains, floods, blizzards, and even a hurricane. The extreme weather attack appeared to have subsided in late 2011 and early 2012, but that even raised fears of a drought.

September 2010 was quite a warm month in Middlesex County. According to the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist, the mean maximum in New Brunswick was 82 degrees while the extreme maximum was 99 degrees. Average temperature that month was 70 degrees versus about 66 in 2009. The heat along with the changing of the seasons provided the contrast that severe weather outbreaks like this can thrive on.

Over in Northwestern Middlesex County, the month of September was fairly warm. The mean temperature for the month was 68.3 degrees. There were four days of 90 degree plus weather including a high of 96 on the 1st, and 97 on the 2nd. The summer of 2012 was quite a scorcher with 38 days of 90 degree plus weather including 16 alone in July. The maximum temperature that month was 101.3 degrees in South Plainfield. Temperatures were at or above 90 degrees as late as September 8th.

On the day of the severe weather, South Plainfield had a high of 74.2 degrees after a low of 49.5 for a mean temperature of 62.4. The dew point peaked at 68 degrees while the heat index reached 76. As the storm approached, the barometric pressure dropped to 29.66 inches of Hg at 4:50 PM EDT. The storm moved through very quickly. It ended up only leaving 0.13 inches of rain, and that fell in a span of about 10 minutes. Following the thunderstorm, the temperature cooled to about 68 degrees.

Depicted in the GWC Time Lapse video from that day, the storm created a greenish color in the sky, which can be an indicator of severe weather. The storm became stronger after it moved through South Plainfield, and barreled toward the coast in Middlesex County. Further south in places such as Bradley Beach, Sandy Hook and Red Bank, the storms were even more intense. Tornadoes were spawned in the New York City boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.

According to an article written in the New York Times from that day, winds from these intensifying storms were estimated to be between 60 to 80 miles per hour. Widespread damage was reported including tops of trees and roofs blown off. Thousands were left without power. The hardest hit areas in those three boroughs were Park Slope, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Middle Village, Forest Hills, and Bayside.

The National Weather Service investigated the storms in New York City, and estimated that an EF0 tornado rolled through Park Slope while an EF1 rolled through Queens. Back in New Jersey, an EF1 tornado was reported near Plumstead in interior Ocean County. The town of Woodruff reported two houses suffered major roof damage, a barn was destroyed, and over 300 trees were down. On that day, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma received 99 storm reports. Of those reports, 19 of them were for tornadoes, 56 were for damaging winds, and 24 were for hail.

New Jersey accounted for 11 of those reports including nine for high wind damage. Perth Amboy and Woodbridge were hard hit by the developing storms. In the township of Woodbridge, trees, large tree branches, and power lines were down. Meanwhile, a wind gust as high as 73 miles per hour was reported in Perth Amboy. According to an article from nj.com, the most severe damage there occurred in the historic district of Water Street, Market Street, and High Street. Between 10 to 20 homes were damaged. Despite all of the damage from the storms, only one person was killed in New York City. No injuries were reported in Perth Amboy although a family did have to relocate.

The memory that I have from this storm was being in the house around dinner time watching the news as the storm rolled in. I recalled seeing the radar showing a line of storms pushing to the east across Middlesex County into Staten Island. I was also posting updates on the storm including warnings in the blog as well. Like the Labor Day Storm of 1998, this severe weather outbreak resulted from an impressive line of storms pushing in with a cold front. Both of these storms left quite a signature on the radar.

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