Summer Rain 2013


Photo by Ann Delaney

Cape May, NJ -  Within just an hour or so last night,  a major storm system, with heavy rain and lightening,  moved ashore from the Delaware Bay.   Ann Delaney, from Stone Harbor, stopped to capture the menacing storm clouds  hovering over Beach Ave in Cape May and posted it on her Twitter page. 

It’s just the latest of the tropical like systems to hit our area.


Our early summer season was one of the wettest on record.  The usually non-existent rain in Cape May during June and July changed to a pattern more often seen farther south.

Most of the rain this summer in South Jersey and Philadelphia has come in torrential deluges amounting to several inches in a single day, simillar to what is seen in the Amazon. Even the clouds that foretell the impending precipitation appear more tropical in nature.

The rainiest days so far this summer were  June 11 and 12.  On those days,  Cape May was deluged by more than 4 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.  Those two days of rain filled the Cape May Times garden rain gauge almost to the top.


June was Cape May’s rainiest month so far. We got twice as much precipitation as usual – 7 inches total.

July also exceeded average rainfall with a total of 5.7 inches of rain for the month.  That’s two inches more than we usually get during a typical July.


The intensity of those early season rains was amazing. Rain fell in sheets, hammering the trees and ground.

Luckily, the soil in and around Cape May drains pretty quickly and brief flooding occurred only in a very few, low lying areas. The water was gone the next day.

Cape May has fared much better than places like Philadelphia.


On a bright, sunny day in July, while sun bathers soaked up rays outside Cape May’s Convention Hall, an ominous cloud was moving rapidly in the background. This massive storm cell would follow the Delaware Bay, dumping inches of rain over the Philadelphia area later on.

Cape May escaped without a single drop that day.


Philadelphia and its suburbs were hit with two of the highest rainfall months in it’s history this summer. Philadelphia’s July rainfall topped 13 inches,  which is equivalent to the amount that falls in Belem, Brazil, during the peak of the rainy season.

Cape May’s been lucky. Many late summer storms have passed Cape May by.

Early summer’s heavy rains seem to be related to the path of the jet stream.  Not only did the jet stream dip far to the south in June and July,  reducing the heat in those areas, but that same jet stream dipped down to the Gulf of Mexico and then turned north bringing massive rains to the southeastern U.S., as well as to Philadelphia and, to a lesser extent, Cape May.

About Paul Kerlinger

Paul Kerlinger, Ph.D. is a scientist, author and nationally known expert on bird migration. He's done extensive studies on hawks, Snowy Owls and neotropical song birds. Kerlinger is the former director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, His books include How Birds Migrate and Flight Strategies of Migrating Hawks. He's an ardent fly fisherman and organic vegetable gardener.