By DON STINE
Talk about March Madness! It seems like Old Man Winter just doesn’t want to give up this year as the fourth nor’easter in three weeks hit the Jersey Shore on Wednesday. It was the first full day of spring.
“I believe the last time we had this many storms, in such a short period, was 1985,” said Neptune Township Clerk Richard Cuttrell, who tracks storms on his website TriStateStormWatch.com.
Cuttrell said the storm was going to hit later in the day on Wednesday than anticipated and that means the snow will continue until as late as 3 a.m. on Thursday. At press time he still predicted that six to 10 inches of snow would fall in the area.
The first nor’easter struck on March 2 and halted flights and caused chaos for commuters. A second nor’easter came on March 7 and left thousands without power and dropped up to 2 feet of snow on the ground in some areas. The third nor’easter occurred on March 12, hammering parts of the Northeast and New England and Wednesday’s fourth storm was expected to bring strong winds and drop from six to ten inches of sleet and wet snow in the area, perhaps a little less along the coast.
With yet another storm in the forecast, many schools were closed on Wednesday, including those in Neptune and Ocean Township. Some schools are beginning to take days from their spring break schedule but Neptune’s and Ocean Township’s spring break schedule remains the same, from March 30 to April 6.
Neptune Board of Education President Laura Granelli said bad weather has added at least one day to the school closing schedule, now planned for June 19.
“I hope this is the end of it,” she said about the bad weather.
Ocean Township School Superintendent James Stefankiewicz said the spring break also remains the same but that the official school closing for students, for now, has been extended by two days, or on Monday, June 25.
“But who knows? There may be more snow and it all depends on what’s going on. But this is what it is right now,” he said.
And Stefankiewicz said he, too, hopes the bad weather is over.
“I had hoped the bad weather was all over three weeks ago. I think everybody hopes this is the end of it but I guess this might be payback for the nice weather we had in February,” he said.
Ocean Township Public Works Director Tom Crochet said his department is “doing fine and is ready for this storm.”
“It’s a waiting game right now,” he said on Wednesday since the storm was coming in later than expected.
He did cancel garbage collection for Wednesday and said sometimes hard decision need to be made because the nature of the storms is sometimes so unpredictable.
“But we have plenty of manpower and salt, enough for another storm, which I hope we don’t get. This has been nuts, we’ll wait and see- but everything is ready to go,” he said.
Neptune Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta the township is “ready for storm.”
He said there is enough manpower, salt and equipment ready and the public works crews will be staggered so that there are always personnel on staff to man the vehicles.
“We will be covering the storm all night until 6:30 a.m. on Thursday (March 22) when we will go back to our normal schedule. Fire houses and first aid squads are manned as is our emergency operations center,” he said.