The Biggest November Snowstorm in New Jersey History Will Blow Your Mind

Written by Micky Moran
Updated: November 25, 2023
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The weather in New Jersey stays pretty consistent, but a few substantial storms through the years are enough to keep any locals on their toes. Snow is a common occurrence as the weather becomes colder in December. With scattered snowfall before the coldest months, only a few Novembers have ever seen a snowflake in New Jersey. The most snow in New Jersey history happened in November 1989.

Does New Jersey Normally Get Snow in November?

New Jersey in winter

New Jersey’s snow typically starts in December, though a few Novembers stand out with their snowfall.

©Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock.com

While most winter weather waits until December, experiencing hail or snow during November is frequent in the Garden State. AccuWeather says many Novembers reach significant lows in the mid-30s, reaching the low 50s at the warmest. While Thanksgiving weekend is often rainy, seeing snow that sticks around is rare.

New Jersey’s fall weather brought snow several times, falling on Thanksgiving. In 1898, this holiday came with 2.5 inches of snow and temperatures below 50 degrees. The next time New Jersey saw any snow of significance was in November 1912, with about an inch of snow in 37-degree weather.

Some of the most recent heavy New Jersey snow in November happened in 2014. On the 27th, the heavy snow mixed with substantial rain, making the half-inch of the former harder to notice. With an added 1.28 inches of rainfall and an average temperature of 42 degrees, most November weather has been free of significant snow in New Jersey.

The 1989 Thanksgiving Snowfall in New Jersey

New Jersey

The most snow that New Jersey ever experienced on Thanksgiving occurred in 1989.

©FotosForTheFuture/Shutterstock.com

The November snow day that goes down in history happened in 1989. On November 23rd, families across the New England state prepared for their Thanksgiving festivities, filling the highways to prepare for the holiday. The local temperature was 33 degrees. Travelers had no idea that they would soon be a part of a powerful snowstorm that affected the better part of the northeastern states.

As the snow accumulated, most areas had at least a foot of snow in their way, but it didn’t stop coming. From North Carolina to Maine, an average of 4-8 inches blanketed the states, depending on the specific snowfall. The piling snow posed a dangerous challenge to anyone still on the roads the night before Thanksgiving. Within 24 hours, the snowfall broke Newark’s previous record on Thanksgiving 1938, which was 4 inches. New Jersey even got more snow than New York City (4.5 inches).

Impact of the Thanksgiving Snow In New Jersey

With this snow, travelers saw the most significant impact as these flurries obstructed their view of the road ahead. Across New England, the cold weather led to the cancellation of high school football games. These games were a local tradition in New Jersey but were far from the only area with cancellations. Several schools in New York and Connecticut also had to cancel their games.

The mighty snow ended after 6 inches of snow powdered the city, though Providence (Rhode Island) saw a whopping 8 inches of snow. Covering a significant portion of the New England region, the storm also resulted in 3 deaths.

New Jersey’s Wildlife In Snowy Novembers

Bears are among many animals that hibernate during New Jersey’s snowy weather.

©Metassus / CC BY 2.0 – License

Experiencing snow is nothing new for local wildlife, so they often start preparing as early as October. No significant animal issues arose during this 1989 storm. With their preparedness for winter, the local wildlife knows how to handle the severe temperatures.

Bats, bears, snakes, and even woodchucks usually hibernate to get through the colder months, so they weren’t even awake for the storm. This hibernation makes maintaining a 38-degree body temperature possible, sleeping through the snow and brisk wind. Bats are one of the biggest hibernators in New Jersey, making them look barely alive during winter weather. Bears add to their body fat in preparation for the months of no food.

Turtles and amphibians in New Jersey go through a similar process called brumation. These animals survive at the bottom of a pond or swamp with almost no oxygen while buried beneath the mud. While the fish live through the cold, they wait to become active again until the water warms up. While many animals have ways of coping with the cold, hummingbirds and other neo-tropical birds migrate towards warmer weather instead.

Deer, coyotes, and squirrels stay right where they are, regardless of the snow. They increase body fat when the weather is warm, helping them thicken their coat before they get cold. Deer prefer to group with others in sheltered forests, while foxes and coyotes maintain the same routine as they always do.

The End Of The Storm

The snowstorm ended on Thanksgiving Day that year. Though the snow went as far south as Virginia, New Jersey finally saw the end of the pouring snow just in time to celebrate the holiday. Unlike more dangerous storms, this November snow didn’t cause lasting damage to any local cities.

As the snow came to a close, it ended a rather strange month for New Jersey. Though this snowstorm took over holiday travel, a massive tornado on November 11th took the state through immense destruction just two weeks earlier.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Wollertz/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Micky Moran is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering mammals, travel, marine life, and geography. He has been writing and researching animals and nature for over 5 years. A resident of Arizona, he enjoys spending time with family, going on adventures across the United States with his wife and kids by his side.

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