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Winter Packs a One-Two Punch As Twin Storms Hit Princeton

Matthew Hersh

Up until now, we've been spoiled.

It had been a cool, almost balmy, season leaving many hoping that winter would enter the same way it sometimes exits: like a lamb.

Those hopes were dashed, however, when the northeast was hit with not the first, but the first two major snowstorms of the season this weekend, each one leaving about seven to eight inches with a total accumulation of about 14 to 15 inches, according to David Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. In central Jersey, the storm was fairly consistent in its seasonal offering, dumping similar snow totals throughout Mercer County and leaving in its wake sore backs from shoveling, and exceedingly jubilant children.

Additionally, the area has been treated to nearly sub-zero temperatures that, with the exception of a few days in December, have not yet been felt. Yesterday and today, Princeton experienced a moderate reprieve as temperatures rose into the more seasonal 30s, but tomorrow and Friday are expected to bring a return to the deep chill.

The double-barrelled impact of the storms, exacerbated by the lack of snow melt, kept roads icy enough to cancel school Monday, much to the delight of Princeton Regional Schools' students who had thought they'd been handed a raw deal when the first major winter storm of the season fell on a weekend. Yesterday, however, school officials deemed the roads passable enough to open as scheduled with no delays.

The storm began accumulating quickly atop frozen ground around 11 a.m. Saturday morning. That first storm petered out about 12 hours later and the second storm, which was actually the stronger of the two, according to Rutgers' Mr. Robinson, started up early Sunday morning and finally exhausted itself around mid-morning.

Princeton Township Police instituted a snow emergency throughout the entire municipality at 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning, meaning cars parked alongside the roads were subject to either ticketing or towing, Capt. Mark Emann said. The Township did not lift the emergency status until yesterday morning.

Capt. Emann said roads were only deemed passable late Sunday morning, when the snow from the second storm subsided. "The second wave hit us pretty good."

There were no serious accidents reported, Capt. Emann said, with only a "handful" of minor accidents caused by cars losing traction and sliding off the road.

In the Borough, police also implemented a snow emergency Sunday morning, and lifted that restriction Monday morning, according to Capt. Anthony Federico.

The only accident reported in the Borough during the snow emergency was actually a drunk-driving incident, and not necessarily related to the snow.

While parking in the Township is improved, the parking situation in the Borough has proven to be somewhat trickier. With more on-street parking and narrower streets, some residents may have a harder time finding a space.

"Street parking is now permitted, but it's always tough when you have big piles of snow," Capt. Federico said, adding that it might be easier to find in-town parking in one of the garages.

Capt. Emann and Capt. Federico both said that the municipalities lucked out by having the storms arrive on the weekend when fewer cars were on the road, but plowers still faced their share of challenges.

"We worked all the way to 7 o'clock, Sunday night," said Don Hansen, superintendent of the Princeton Township Department of Public Works. He said the one-two punch of the storms made for difficult plowing "We plowed some streets three and four times."

"Initially, we pushed the first snow back on the main roads, then we went to the side roads and got hit with another seven or eight inches, so we had to do everything over." According to Mr. Hansen, residents living in cul-de-sacs would be plowed last as main and secondary roads received priority.

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