Last winter brought freezing winds and debilitating snowstorms. As temperatures drop and fall slowly turns to winter (Saturday could bring snow), Ramapo is preparing for another snowy season. Provisions include stocking up on salt and implementing a new policy that requests all parked cars be relocated before storms to designated snow areas to aid in the removal of snow.
“Each year, Facilities meets with our snow removal contractor and staff prior to the winter season to review our procedures and priorities. All equipment is inspected and repaired as needed in August and September,” said Stephen Hudik, assistant vice president of communications and public relations, in an email.
Last year, Ramapo used approximately 600 tons of ice-melting material to get through the 15 incidents of snowy, icy weather, explained Hudik.
“Last year was an especially harsh winter… The total cost for snow removal last year exceeded our previous high by $525,000,” he said.
However, students and staff need not be too wary, as this winter will probably not be as brutal as the last, according to Bob Ziff, the spokesman for the North Jersey Weather Observers. Due to an El Niño pattern that will be forming this winter, Ziff predicts that snowfall in the area will drop from last winter’s 52.4 inches of precipitation.
“An El Niño pattern is supposed to be forming, which is a warming of the Pacific Ocean, and what that generally means for our area is that it gives us changeable weather conditions for this winter, meaning it will be cold for a couple days then it may warm up, then a storm might roll in and we may not get a lot of snow out of it because it warmed up,” said Ziff.
Based on Ziff’s past observations, El Niño patterns tend to bring about smaller squalls with one big seasonal snowstorm – nothing like the intense storms of last winter.
“To get storms like we did last year you need the cold and the snow in the same area at the same time and the chances of that happening are pretty slim, especially with an El Niño pattern,” he said.
That being said, Ziff concedes that this winter will be yet another frosty one. While conditions may not be as bad as last year, students at Ramapo and residents of North Jersey on the whole should be prepared to bust out their jackets and scarves.
“Winter will be colder and slightly wetter than normal, with above-normal snowfall,” Ziff explained. “The coldest periods will be in late December and early and mid-January. The snowiest periods will be in mid and late-December, mid-January, and early to mid-February.”
The condition of this season’s snow is expected to be colder and wetter than usual, as a result of the milder air brought in by the El Niño pattern, according to Ziff, whereas last year’s snowfall was fluffy and dry because of the drier air. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that North Jersey will get 33 percent more precipitation this winter, but has equal chances of enduring either above or below average temperatures.
To combat the snow, Ramapo stores up to 150 tons of salt on campus, according to Hudik. This provision has been in place since before October, but the College will order salt as needed. The need for these measures remains to be seen, however.
“The wild card of this winter is when will El Niño form and what effect will it have on our winter,” said Ziff.