Just snow, and that's a relief at Shore

Under a fresh coat of snow, the sculpture in front of the Cherry Hill Public Library on Kings Highway may be hiding from movers, scheduled to relocate the artwork this week. The life-like sculpture of a couple reading a newspaper will be part of a retrospective by artist Seward Johnson at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. ( DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer )

ATLANTIC CITY - Luckily for the often weather-beleaguered Jersey Shore, the St. Patrick's Day snowstorm Monday didn't bring a coastal low with high winds and heavy flooding.

That meant it was just snow - and the subsequent trudging through and shoveling of it - that had to be dealt with, not widespread power outages, road closures, and other damage.

But three days before spring officially begins, nobody was rolling in clover after Atlantic and Cape May Counties were slammed with more than 10 inches of snow in some spots along the coast, with lesser amounts inland through Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties. Snowfall totals in the Pennsylvania suburbs registered a half-foot or less.

As the last flakes of the more than 12-hour storm finally blanketed South Jersey after midday Monday, it was Wildwood Crest that hit the jackpot with 10.5 inches reported, while totals elsewhere hovered closer to a half-foot, according to the National Weather Service.

This latest storm made this winter the second-snowiest on record in the region, said weather service meteorologist Mitchell Gaines in Mount Holly.

Gaines said 4.5 inches of snow was recorded at Philadelphia International Airport on Monday, bringing the total to 67.4 inches for the region this winter. The snowiest winter was 2009-10, with 78.7 inches, Gaines said.

The 4.5 inches of snow that accumulated at the airport was a record for March 17. This winter has had 14 days of snow with an inch or more accumulation, tied with the winter of 1898-99. A record has been set this winter, however, with March the fourth month in a row with double the normal snowfall.

Monday also marked the 14th peak commute time affected by snow or ice, officials said.

"It's just so wrong," said Lucien Owens of Atlantic City as he shoveled the wet, heavy snow from a sidewalk in front of his Chelsea neighborhood home. "This has to be the 10th time I've done this over the winter. I'm so sick of it."

Dozens of minor auto accidents were reported, including more than a dozen along the Atlantic City Expressway, despite a speed limit of 35 m.p.h. in force most of the day along that route and on the Garden State Parkway.

Closures at the Shore included schools, senior service centers, and the Cape May County Zoo. Superior Court in Atlantic, Cape May, and Gloucester Counties and Richard Stockton College had delayed openings, while scattered power outages were reported in Ocean City, Mays Landing, and Buena.

Last winter, the state spent $62.5 million to clear snow and treat roadways for ice using 258,000 tons of salt, said Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. It had already cost the state $106 million to keep the roads clear this winter, as of Feb. 27, by dumping 461,000 tons of salt.

But if the cruel weather continues into spring, Schapiro said, the state will be ready.

"We'll have our crews out there to keep our street clear and safe," Schapiro said. "Hopefully, Mother Nature will look kindly on us soon. I think we're all ready for it."

Officials in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties said Monday that they, too, were coping with budget constraints as they looked forward to better weather.

Gloucester County Freeholder Heather Simmons said road crews had begun to run out of salt, but the warm lull last week helped them restock with 700 tons, with a further 300 tons scheduled for delivery next month. Though the county had set aside $1 million for salt, it is $200,000 over budget, she said.

"This is a strain on everybody, but we're confident we'll get through," Simmons said.




Inches of snow at Wildwood Crest.


Inches of snow

at Philadelphia International Airport.


Total inches of snow for the region this winter.


Inches in the snowiest winter, 2009-10.


Days of one or more inches of snow this winter.

Contact Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or jurgo@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writers Allison Steele and Anthony R. Wood contributed to this article.