By MADDY VITALE
The first winter storm of the season brought wind gusts of 35 mph, flooding and a steady, heavy wet snow that was expected to top out at a foot or more in Ocean City Monday.
Many people opted to remain off the streets and play it safe. Public Works crews cleared the roads throughout the day.
Mayor Jay Gillian urged residents to limit their travels to emergencies only in a message to the community at 2 p.m.
The city, he noted, was well-prepared to handle what came their way.
“We have been preparing since yesterday and have a full complement of trucks and equipment,” Gillian told OCNJDaily.com. “The city team will be working nonstop to get Ocean City roads cleaned and safe.”
While city workers were busy clearing roadways, other people were taking advantage of a snow day off school or work. There was even a person cross-country skiing on the Boardwalk. Others took photos and video of the winter storm and posted them on social media.
Suzanne Hagan posted on the Facebook forum Ocean City NJ Flooding that there were several feet of water on 35th and 36th Streets. One person took a photo of a road closure barrier that was to the side of a flooded 14th Street.
The Ocean City School District announced Monday night that due to the winter storm, all schools would be closed for a second day in a row on Tuesday.
The Ocean City Community Center closed at noon on Monday and was expected to reopen on Tuesday. City Hall offices remained open.
Doug Bergen, the city’s public information officer, said that the morning tide came in at 6.26 feet MLW (mean low water), which was under what was first predicted.
“That was fortunate. With schools canceled and the heavy snow, travel was limited,” he said.
While initial snow totals were predicted for 4 to 6 inches, the National Weather Service later increased the prediction to 6 to 8 inches.
However, Bergen said the snow totals will likely be more than forecast, before the storm is through.
“It’s still snowing here,” Bergen said at 4:30 p.m. “When it’s over, I think we’ll have about a foot.”
He noted, however, that “It’s hard to get a reading, because the winds are creating drifts.”
Wind gusts were a bit less than originally predicted at 35 mph instead of 40 mph and above, Bergen said.
Even though the storm has all but ended, Bergen warned that flooding could pose an issue again on Tuesday in some areas.
“We still have at least two more tide cycles of concern for Ocean City,” he said.
One advisory was for 8:47 p.m. Monday night, when the prediction was 5.6 feet at high tide.
“Tomorrow morning’s 9:10 a.m. tide could be significantly higher,” Bergen said. “The wind is starting to shift offshore, which should help. But the National Weather Service has not yet posted its alert for tomorrow morning. We’ll know more when they do.”
In the mayor’s statement to the public Monday afternoon, Gillian urged residents “to check on their friends and neighbors to make sure they’re OK and have what they need.”
“I’ve always been proud of Ocean City’s community spirit in times like these,” he said. “We always pull together to help each other out.”