By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City was pounded by high winds, drifting snow and whiteout conditions from the coastal blizzard that gripped the Jersey Shore on Thursday and will be followed by brutally cold temperatures lingering through the weekend.
“In some places, it looks like snow drifts four or five feet deep,” Sea Isle spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
Depending on the wind direction, parts of some lawns were swept clear of snow, creating the odd scene of exposed green grass while the blizzard raged, Custer noted.
Blustery conditions made it difficult to determine exactly how much snow had fallen on Sea Isle.
“It’s so hard to gauge because of the gusting winds,” Custer said.
Between 8 and 12 inches of snow had been predicted along most of the Jersey Shore, with up to 14 inches in some spots.
Winds gusts of up to 55 mph combined with the heavy snow to create whiteout conditions in Sea Isle, accompanied by minor or moderate flooding, the police department reported on its Facebook page.
“It’s a great day to stay inside and stay warm!” the department urged the public.
Sustained winds of 30 mph pummeled Sea Isle and other seashore communities throughout the day. Strong winds will continue through Thursday night and Friday, dropping the wind below zero.
“We have strong, gusting winds, just like other shore areas,” Custer said.
At one point during the storm, the Corsons Inlet Bridge linking Sea Isle and Strathmere was the only way to enter and leave Sea Isle, police said.
Sea Isle Boulevard, the main route into town, was temporarily closed after the westbound lane became impassable due to a disabled vehicle and drifting snow banks, according to police. Snowplows were busy keeping Sea Isle Boulevard passable after it reopened Thursday afternoon.
The Townsends Inlet Bridge connecting Sea Isle and Avalon also was temporarily shut down. Police said the bridge was closed because of high waves and water on the Avalon side. It reopened Thursday evening, police reported.
Sea Isle was scheduled to remain under a blizzard warning until 7 p.m. Thursday. Even after the storm subsides, high winds will cause blowing snow through Friday, making travel “very dangerous,” Police Chief Thomas D’Intino said.
“Governor Christie has issued a State of Emergency for our region. We ask all to stay off of the roads while this order is in effect to allow emergency vehicles and snowplows clear paths to perform their critical duties,” D’Intino said in a statement.
The forecast calls for a high temperature Friday of just 10 degrees and a low of 8. The extreme cold will continue Saturday, with the high temperature creeping up to 18 degrees and a low of 3.