March 15, 2017

Princeton Took No Chances With Stella

With some weather websites predicting a foot or more of snow and strong winds for Monday night into Wednesday thanks to the nor’easter named Stella, Princeton’s public works and police departments were taking no chances and preparing for the worst.

“We’re ready to go,” said Dan Van Mater, superintendent in the Department of Public Works, on Monday afternoon. “We’re just getting the trucks ready, and the salt dome is full. We’re replenishing what we used last Friday and we have more salt coming in today.”

Some 26 people were scheduled to come in to work at midnight. “We take care of it when it starts,” Mr. Van Mater said. “We have everybody come in, as we do with every significant storm.”

The same procedure was in process at the Princeton Police Department, where time off was restricted because of the storm. “We’re making sure the vehicles are gassed up and we have an extra dispatcher at the communications center, because call volume always goes up,” said Lieutenant Jon Bucchere, the department’s spokesman. Mr. Bucchere urged the public to visit the police department’s Facebook page as well as the town website to keep abreast of the situation.

“Usually we’ll start putting out messages telling people to stay off the road. You can get trees down, power lines down, traffic accidents С it can be very dangerous,” he said. “We’re going to stay really pro-active with messaging by the minute.”

Teased by a run of spring weather last week that coaxed daffodils and crocuses into early bloom, New Jersey residents were taken aback at the predictions of strong winter weather. But it has been known to snow in the state as late as April. The Great Blizzard of 1888, on record as one of the deadliest snowstorms in U.S. history, left its mark on parts of New Jersey. Other spring snow storms have been recorded since then, the most significant of which was a Category 5 (extreme) storm in 1993 that blanketed some parts of New Jersey with 20 to 30 inches.

By Monday afternoon, PSE&G had issued a press release saying preparations were being made should trees and power lines be downed by strong winds. Extra personnel was being scheduled with more on standby, according to John Latka, senior vice president of electric and gas operations for the utility.

Princeton Public Library was closed on Tuesday. Winter storm warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for Central New Jersey beginning at 10 p.m. Monday, March 13 and ending at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 14. Wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour were predicted near the coast.

To report downed wires or power outages, visit or call (800) 436-PSEG.