In early January, it may be hard to remember the heat we experienced in 2016, but last year was one for the weather record books.

David De Lossy, ThinkStock

According to New Jersey State Climatologist Dr. David Robinson at Rutgers University, 2016 was the third-warmest year on record for the state, dating back to 1895.

With an average statewide temperature of 55 degrees, 2016 fell short only to 2012 and 1998, and tied 2006.

Robinson cited a "persistent warmth" for much of the year, helped along by the warmest August on record in New Jersey, and temperatures topping 80 degrees in early March and approaching 90 in mid-October.

"We didn't have one or several torrid heat waves where temperatures got over the century mark," Robinson said of New Jersey's summer, which ranked as the second-hottest. "Rather, we just hung with day after day in the 90s and warm nights that stayed in the 70s."

According to Robinson, virtually all of New Jersey's top 20 years of warmth occurred in the last two decades.

"There's no question New Jersey's gotten considerably warmer in some of our lifetimes," Robinson said. "And there's no question that the globe has experienced similar warming, and we're part of that pattern, and all the research points towards human activities — the greenhouse effect creating this warmer base level."

Nine of the 12 months last year registered below-average precipitation, making 2016 a drier-than-normal year as well.

Statewide annual precipitation, including rain and melted snow, amounted to a little more than 40 inches, or more than six inches below normal.

Robinson said 2016 ranks in the top 25 percent of dry years for New Jersey, following a 2015 that was also on the dry side.

The state's 14 northernmost counties remain under a drought warning from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

According to Robinson's office, the most significant weather event of 2016 occurred on Jan. 23 when record and near-record snowfall covered most of the state. Thirty-inch totals were reported in Morris and Somerset counties.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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