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Storm Hits: "We Got Hammered"

Matthew Hersh

As the region received a healthy winter walloping for the third time in eight days, Princetonians were left dreaming of dry, sunny January days and the calmer skies of winter's first half. Or, perhaps we were left to accept the fact that it is winter, and snow definitely happens.

So, while residents wonder exactly how much snow they are actually required to remove from their sidewalks, they could be thankful that this trio of storms did not cause serious damage in the area.

The latest storm did, however, cause throngs of jubilant Princeton Regional Schools students to celebrate when they were informed Monday morning that school would let out early at 1 p.m. The situation only improved when, around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, they learned that a whole day of school had, indeed, been cancelled.

Actual snow totals for the region were on the low end of early reports forecasting between six and 12 inches. Even though the snow began to fall at a steady clip Monday around 11 a.m., it took hours before it began to accumulate, offering somewhat of a reprieve to commuters and students who needed to get off the roads before icy conditions prevailed.

The advance notice helped. The schools were dismissed, Princeton University closed early, and all municipal action was postponed to later dates.

The lightened load of traffic allowed both Borough and Township Departments of Public Works to come in and handle the roads with a certain level of ease, according to Janet Pellichero, of the Township's Public Works.

"The roads are looking pretty good: yesterday's storm kind of caught us off-guard and the small amounts of snow that kept coming was really more of a problem to deal with. "The crews were out there all day yesterday and all night last night, rested for a few hours, and then went out there again." All things considered, Mr. Pellichero said that while the combination of the three storms has been "laborious," the roads have held up "just fine."

When the snow was not yet -accumulating, crews capitalized on the opportunity to adequately salt the roads for the inevitable sub-freezing temperatures that would arrive later Monday night. "It definitely helped us out through the rush hour," Ms. Pellichero said. "We didn't get the big amount of snow until rush hour was pretty much out, which is always a blessing when it comes to the snowstorms." Nevertheless, Princeton Township Police declared a snow emergency around 3:30 p.m. Monday. That declaration prohibits parking on all municipally-owned streets to allow roads to be plowed. The snow emergency was lifted Tuesday at 1:45 p.m., according to Capt. Mark Emann.

The snow did cause it's share of problems, however.

"We had numerous accidents last night going into the rush hour," Capt. Emann said, adding that Monday's storm was not as bad as Thursday's storm. "We got hammered." "Everything from cars coming together to cars going off the road," he said, adding that no serious injuries were reported.

Capt. Emann said the school cancellations could remove up to 25 percent of local commuter traffic in the morning and played a factor in a relatively calm Tuesday a.m. commute.

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