Snow blankets the Golden Galleon taffy shop along the Ocean City Boardwalk Friday. This weekend's heavy snowstorm, which started to move over Southern New Jersey, is expected to hit hard statewide.
Snow blankets the Golden Galleon taffy shop along the Ocean City Boardwalk Friday. This weekend's heavy snowstorm, which started to move over Southern New Jersey, is expected to hit hard statewide.A slow-moving snowstorm that moved up the East Coast is expected to create a wintry mess in the Garden State today.
Packing strong winds and heavy moisture, the winter weather system triggered flight cancellations, office closures and blizzard warnings in parts of the state.
Highway crews and hospital workers remained on high alert, and police were advising drivers to stay off the roads.
Blizzard conditions are expected Saturday morning along the southern stretch of the Shore. Snow was predicted to reach 20 inches or more in coastal areas, and nearly as high in the Philadelphia suburbs, with less in central and northern New Jersey.
Along with the snowflakes — and worries about power outages and messy roads — the storm also carried a bit of irony. Just as the Garden State was bracing for the wallop from this latest storm, the federal government declared disaster areas in seven South Jersey counties that were hit with a massive late-December snowstorm.
The declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency affects Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties which were pummeled with up to 2 feet of snow and high winds Dec. 19-20.
That area of the state sustained significant damage, requiring a substantial amount of money for cleanup and repairs. A disaster declaration allows the state and local governments to recoup most of the money spent on the storm cleanup.
“It’s actually very good news for all of the declared counties,” said Ed Conover, Atlantic County’s deputy emergency management director. “With the money from the federal government, we won’t have to cut other programs later in the year.”
That pounding came a month after many of those same counties were lashed by a three-day nor’easter that flooded roads, ravaged beaches and undermined fragile infrastructure.
At Newark Liberty International Airport, Continental Airlines canceled flights bound for Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., through today. Alerts were issued for all sorts of weekend closings, ranging from New Jersey’s motor-vehicle centers and a job fair at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson today, to the state sectional track and field championships in Toms River on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
At Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, 15 patient rooms were set aside so nurses and doctors on today’s roster could catch some sleep. NJ Transit kept updating its online “Storm Watch,” and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did the same on its “Big Dig” link.
“Hopefully, most people will wake up, pull the covers over their heads and decide not to go out on the road,” State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes said. “The less cars we have on the road, the less accidents.”
As the snowstorm bared down, though, Dave Kingdon of Ocean Gate Yacht Sales told the Bayville boat broker’s 110 fans on Facebook to come on down to Booth 256 at the Atlantic City International Boatshow. “Free snow shovel with the purchase of any new Hunter Sailboat,” he wrote on the social-networking page.
The normal Saturday crowd, it seemed, arrived a day early as the storm approached with all the power of a speedboat’s wake.
“This place is just packed today,” Kingdon said.
What Super Bowl?
The super snowstorm — whose predicted severity prompted a blizzard warning until 7 p.m. today in southern New Jersey and a state of emergency in Camden — was upending a weekend otherwise dominated by Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
Everywhere, towns and cities were mobilizing men, women and materials, and salt — lots of salt — as much as 900 tons in Cape May County alone.
The snow-fighting arsenal looked something like this: Middlesex’s 80 trucks were fitted with plow blades; Union called up crews for 70 snow plows and 40 spreaders; Essex had about 30 contractors with 200 pieces of equipment at its disposal; the state had 500 plows and spreaders and a reserve force of 1,450 contractors to tackle stretches such as the New Jersey Turnpike.
There was even a reminder about snow etiquette.
The city of Newark issued a reminder that fines for improper snow removal could range from $100 to $1,000. “When you shovel snow, please keep it off the street,” said Mayor Cory Booker.
At the 6th Avenue Electronics store in Woodbridge, the retailer was bracing more for bargain shoppers than snow ahead of the Super Bowl. The afternoon store traffic was normal for a Friday, said Scott Rosen, the manager. No signs of pre-storm early birds.
But he wasn’t worried. Customers will come out and buy a wide-screen TV for the big game, he said. “They get stir-crazy,” Rosen said of those supposedly homebound because of the snow.
Buy, and they have a story to tell, he said. “It’s like an ego thing. ‘You see that TV, I got it during the worst blizzard ever.’ That has happened more than once.”
At the Wildwood Convention Center, the All Breed Dog show, which started Wednesday, was destined to continue, simply because the vendors were already in town.
“A couple of inches or 2 feet, it’s going to take place,” said Sue Shomo, president of the sponsoring Boardwalk Kennel Club.