Newark Liberty International Airport was blanketed with 14 inches of snow on Monday, shattering the airport’s daily snowfall record for Feb. 1, which had been 7.5 inches on this date in 1957, the weather service’s New York regional office said.
Newark also picked up 2.2 inches of snow on Sunday, so its storm total as of now is at least 16.2 inches, with some spotty snow showers still falling Monday night.
Meanwhile, forecasters are keeping a close eye on a much bigger record — an elusive one that has stood strong for nearly 122 years: New Jersey’s all-time biggest snowstorm total.
That distinction belongs to the city of Cape May, where 34 inches of snow fell during a multi-day storm that stretched from Feb. 11 to Feb. 14 in 1899. Since that time, no snowstorm in the Garden State has generated that much snow, although some came very close.
Now all eyes are on the current, slow-moving nor’easter, which has already dumped a massive amount of snow on parts of northern New Jersey.
As of late Monday evening, the National Weather Service’s Mount Holly forecast office has received reports of 30 inches of snow on the ground in Mendham in Morris County and 28.3 inches of snow in Sparta in Sussex County.
It’s quite possible several more inches of snow could fall overnight, so forecasters at the Mount Holly office are paying close attention to the longstanding record, said Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist at the office.
However, even if a snowfall report of more than 34 inches happens to come in to the National Weather Service, it wouldn’t be declared as an all-time state record unless it goes through a strict verification process, according to O’Brien and New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson, whose office at Rutgers University oversees the state’s climate data and records.
O’Brien said all snowfall totals that are reported to the weather service are considered preliminary until they are confirmed. And Robinson said any snowfall reports for something as significant as a statewide record would undergo a lot of scrutiny under procedures set up by the National Centers for Environmental Information, formerly known as the National Climatic Data Center.
Robinson said the process involves determining the procedure used by the weather observer, or “spotter,” who reported the snowfall measurement, and making sure the procedure adheres to proper standards in measuring snow.
It’s not something weather and climate experts take lightly, Robinson noted.
So, if you happen to see a photo on social media of someone holding a tape measure showing 35 inches of snow somewhere in New Jersey, don’t assume it’s a new all-time record. It still would have to be verified.
Current weather radar
Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.
Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.