Jesse Fried • Aug 13, 2019

Not as hot as the South, not as cold as New England, not as extreme as the Midwest, the climate of New Jersey is still all of those things. There is a real summer and a real winter. We feel eastern North America's constant skirmish between tropical heat and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dry cold from the Arctic, but the ocean helps protect us from some of the extremes.

The Gulf Stream flows not too far off of our coast, and while the air and water are moving in the wrong direction for it to really dominate our climate, it keeps out the bitterest of the cold that afflicts inland locations at our same latitude during the winter.

The summers are hot and sticky, to be sure, but not all the time. We can usually count on cooler drier air to move in after a number of days or sometimes weeks of heat. Areas right on the shore are saved from the worst of it by onshore breezes, but on the other hand the urbanized parts of the state with more pavement than trees can really bake. The influence of the ocean can be seen in the relative calmness of summer storms in comparison to the Midwest. The variations in summer weather usually bring rain at least every week or two.

Hurricanes are a concern at the end of the summer, and even in a weak hurricane season, we get a lot of tropical moisture during that time.

Freezing temperatures commonly occur from October through April. We have periods of extreme cold, but they are usually short. January and February can get down into the single digits, but relatively milder, moister weather, with highs and sometimes lows above freezing, usually returns after a few days. The well-known but scientifically dubious phenomenon of the "January thaw" is an example of the variable winter weather. Snow, sleet and ice are common, but it all usually melts within a few days. Overall winter is mildly harsh, with the main problem being its long duration. The growing season is on the short side, compared to many places in the world, though longer than much of North America's "corn belt."

Spring and fall are considered beautiful, but they are a little too chilly and unpredictable for my taste. I'm usually happy with the weather from late April or May until November. I personally would prefer a milder climate, but as far as Eastern North America goes, I do think we are in a sweet spot between the unbearable heat south of us and the ice and snow north of us. Plus the ocean does help a bit.