It’s December and the Flowers Are in Bloom


coaster-news-200By JOSEPH SAPIA

Traditionally, Santa Claus travels by reindeer-pulled sleigh, bundled up against the cold. This year, though, he may travel by surfboard and bathing suit — because it has been warm.

Over the last week or so around Asbury Park, highs have been in the mid-40s to more than 60 degrees. Lows have ranged from about just below freezing, or 32 degrees, into the 50s. This weekend, the National Weather Service forecast is for temperatures with a high around 60 degrees.

The normal high for Dec. 10, for example, is 46, the normal low, 31, said Richard J. Cuttrell, Neptune Township’s municipal meteorologist. The Christmas normal high being 42, the normal low, 27, Cuttrell said.

“I can’t believe my grass is still green,” Cuttrell said. “I think it’s going to stay generally mild through Christmas.”

“I think the grass kept growing a little longer and the leaves stayed up,” said Steven R. Harvey, who owns a Neptune-based lawn service and snow-removal business.

Harvey attributed the grass growing and leaves still being on trees to the warm temperature. Also, Harvey said, a lack of rain and wind kept the leaves hanging on, while rain at the right time greened lawns.

Lawn services are normally done by the end of November, but, this year, “the warmer weather kept the landscapers going,” Harvey said.

While Diane Larson, the horticulturist in the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension office in Freehold Township, said leaves have generally fallen, she said “the grass is definitely still growing — it’s been that warm.” Larson recommended keeping lawns at least 3 to 4 inches in height, because lower cuts could expose the crown to mold, for example.

Forsythia has been blooming, Larson said.

“It got tricked,” Larson said. “They flower with the warmth.”

Forsythia were responding to the cold, followed by the warm, making them think the warm season had arrived after the cold season, Larson said. Forsythia are easy to “force,” or manipulate their blooming, by cutting a sprig, bringing it inside and placing it in water, where its bloom will last a week or two, Larson said.

On a statewide basis, the September-October-November quarter was the fifth warmest in about 120 years of recording weather information, said State Climatologist David Robinson. But do not read too much into that alone, Robinson said.

November was the fifth warmest, October had below average temperatures, September was the third warmest, Robinson said. Also, five of the nine warmest Novembers have happened since 2001.

Another interesting statistic is Atlantic City has not recorded a freezing temperature yet this season, Robinson said. Normally, Atlantic City hits freezing, or 32 degrees, from the beginning to mid-November, Robinson said.

“I suspect there’s going to be more winter in the second half (of the season),” Cuttrell said. “To what degree is the wildcard.”

And, looking ahead, here are average snowfalls for the area: Neptune, about 28 inches; Freehold, 25 inches; Atlantic City, 18 inches; Indian Mills, 21 inches; and Newark, 30 inches.

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