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December 29, 2010

                                                                                    Re: DEP Advises Local Officials To Clear
                                                                                    Storm Drains Before Weekend Thaw

Dear Mayor:

Although the Department of Environmental Protection is not expecting significant flooding from the melting of snow as the weather warms up this weekend, Commissioner Bob Martin today advised mayors and other local officials to make sure storm drains are clear of snow in order to prevent localized street flooding.

In a conference call this morning, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly and the National Weather Service River Forecast Center in State College, Pa. discussed flooding potential with Commissioner Martin, the DEP's Emergency Management Program, the DEP's Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control, and the New Jersey State Police Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

While temperatures are predicted to rise to the upper 40s by the weekend, the release of water from the snow pack from last weekend's blizzard is expected to be relatively gradual, meaning that the state is not expected to experience stream or river flooding, said Commissioner Martin. 

"Right now, the predictions do not point to any major flooding, but we are working closely with all of our state and local partners and the National Weather Service to monitor the situation. We want to keep local officials armed with good information," Commissioner Martin said. "The rate of melting will likely increase over the weekend, so it's important that public works crews get out now to clear snow from storm drains that may still be blocked, allowing water from the snowmelt to drain freely into waterways.''  

"The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is closely cooperating with the DEP and will be closely monitoring any weather event that could elevate water levels this weekend,'' added New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes, who also is New Jersey's OEM director.

The DEP and OEM are reaching out directly to municipal and county officials to make sure road departments keep the drains cleared, especially in flood-prone areas, such as the Passaic River and Raritan River basins.

The DEP's Bureau of Dam Safety and Flood Control does not expect any problems with dams, and is available to dam owners to provide guidance if requested. The Bureau does not anticipate any problems with the Pompton Lakes Dam in the Passaic River Basin.

Last weekend's blizzard dumped at least 18 inches of snow in coastal areas and more than that in parts of northern New Jersey. The National Weather Service is tracking the potential for rain this weekend, but it's too early to say how much might fall.

But several factors will mitigate the flooding potential, according to the National Weather Service, which has run computer models to evaluate the situation. First, the state's rivers and streams had been at or even below normal levels leading up to the blizzard.  Meantime, icing on rivers and streams has not built up enough to cause a significant threat for ice jams. 

In addition, the snowfall also was relatively dry and fluffy, holding less water than many other snowfalls. Daytime thaw and nighttime freeze cycles today through Friday will help regulate melting, allowing for  reduction in the snow pack before temperatures rise over the weekend. 

"This will help us to get rid of some of this snow before temperatures rise," said Robert Van Fossen, DEP's Assistant Director for Emergency Management. "This is a good way for melting to occur."

For further information contact Major Dennis P. McNulty, Commanding Officer, New Jersey State Police, (609) 963-6933 (32).

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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