By Tim Kelly
As it turns out, last week’s snowfall in the region was just the “warm-up” for Thursday’s main event.
Ocean City, Sea Isle and Somers Point braced for and dealt with what could only be described as a blizzard on Thursday.
The National Weather Service was officially calling for 4-6 inches in the area. However, wind gusts topping 50 miles per hour were causing drifts including on roadways and stranded vehicles were common. The wind was also making it difficult to accurately measure accumulation.
The snowfall began at about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, as predicted, and was still coming down at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Most local schools were closed Wednesday in anticipation of the storm, and on Thursday Governor Christie called a state of emergency in four coastal counties including Atlantic and Cape May.
“Please stay off the roads and stay sheltered and warm,” Christie said.
The Governor also ordered all state offices closed Thursday. But in the wake of such steps, plows and salt trucks fanned out in an effort to keep up with the accumulating snow.
The situation was further complicated by four previous days of frigid temperatures dipping in the teens and single digits. Forecasts called for continued cold weather, which hampered snow removal efforts and fears the bulk of the snowfall would freeze over.
In Sea Isle City, a Philadelphia TV news van showed pictures of near “white-out” conditions along Landis Ave. with visibility of just a few feet.
The Route 9 business corridor in Somers Point was nearly deserted at a time it would normally bustle with activity and traffic.
In Ocean City, cars were spotted abandoned in drifts on 3rd Street.
And as always with a storm categorized as a Nor’easter, there were worries of flooded streets and beach erosion. However, as of noon, things seemed to be mostly stable under the circumstances.
Ocean City Councilman Peter Madden urged residents to use common sense and stay out of harm’s way.
“Check on your neighbors, and keep your pets indoors,” Madden urged.
He also advised owners of second homes to set their heat at 55 degrees or warmer to avoid frozen pipes, to charge phones and laptops and make sure flashlights and radios were equipped with fresh batteries.
On the ground, people seemed to be heeding the warnings.
“I’m headed home and then I’m going to enjoy some hot chocolate,” said a man on Corinthian Ave. in Ocean City, who declined to give his name. “It’s really beautiful…when I’m looking out of the window in my kitchen.”