While refreshingly benign west of the Delaware River, the heftiest — and arguably the aesthetically most spectacular — snowfall in three winters displayed a darker side in South Jersey, even though the Pennsylvania snow totals generally were a shade higher.
Atlantic City Electric crews, with some help from PSEG, were working to restore power Thursday to some of the more than 75,000 customers who lost it as a result of the storm. Peco reported only “scattered” outages in southeastern Pennsylvania.
The river evidently was the great divide.
Why the difference?
After dark, some heavy snow bands did target parts of South Jersey, said Dave Dombek, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., and several observers weighed in with double-digit totals.
And that snow quite literally was heavy – weightier than it was to the west, according to Lance Franck at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly. It also was stickier.
The liquid content of the Jersey snow overall was higher than it was to the west, where the air was colder and the snow fluffier.
In South Jersey, “we saw a warmer temperature profile, so that snow had a lot more liquid,” he said. “There was a pretty dramatic difference.” Temperatures were above freezing, Dombek said, and 2 to 4 degrees higher than they were across the river.
The snow-to-liquid ratios on the Pennsylvania side typically were about 10:1, Franck said. Closer to the Shore, it was roughly 7:1; that’s a 30 percent weight difference. A 6-inch snow in that case might weigh as much as a typical 9- or 10-inch snowfall.
Aside from the weight, the added juice would have made the snow more likely to accumulate on wires and tree branches.
“It’s pastier,” Franck said. “It kind of sticks to everything.”
Such drama generally was absent west of the river, despite some quite impressive snow totals.
Philadelphia International Airport, and other parts of the city and Delaware County, appeared to have missed the heftiest snow bands that rippled across the region Wednesday afternoon and night. Up to 16.5 inches was reported north and west of the city.
Still, the airport’s official total of 7.6 inches made this the second-biggest spring snowfall in the period of record, after the 19.5 inches of April 4-5, 1915.
Tony Gigi, erstwhile Mount Holly National Weather Service meteorologist, informed that the 15.2 inches for the month makes it tied for second for the snowiest March. March 1941 is the clubhouse leader at 17.7.
He noted that this month and its counterpart in 1941 are the only Marches with two 6-plus-inch snowfalls.
He also mentioned one other statistic of note: The month has 10 days left.
Staff writer Andrew Maykuth contributed to this article.