Towns clear trees, limbs, debris left by storms

Photo Courtesy of Robert O’Rourke
Oak and evergreen trees were particularly vulnerable during the most recent spate of snowstorms, toppling onto power lines, homes and roads, leaving local DPW crews and homeowners with a lot to clean up.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The power has been restored after four nor’easters in less than three weeks. Now comes the rest of the cleanup.
Crews have been out in most towns throughout the country during the past week, cutting, pruning and chipping to clear the debris left from the recent series of storms.

The March winter storms accounted for four out of the total five nor’easters that occurred during this winter season, Rutgers University geography professor David Robinson told LocalSource on March 26. They left a trail of downed trees, broken limbs and other destruction.

Storms blew through with powerful winds Jan. 4; March 1 and 2; March 7; March 12 and 13; and March 21 and 22, dumping various amounts of heavy wet snow. The March 7 blizzard, dubbed “Quinn,” hundreds of trees were toppled in the county, knocking out power to as many as 27,000 houses and businesses.

JCP&L spokesperson Ron Morano noted that the largest concentration of outages for the company’s customers was due to wet snow, trees and wind gusts that impacted electrical equipment.

As part of JCP&L’s restoration effort, Morano said, workers removed a significant number of trees from roads.
About 2,100 roads statewide had to be cleared following Quinn and the March 1 and 2 storm, dubbed “Riley.”
Of all the storms, Riley brought the strongest winds — up to 70 mph — to New Jersey.

Certified arborist Robert O’Rourke, of Davey Trees tree service company, said he hadn’t seen so many trees felled since Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Spotting 60-foot trees on top of houses, O’Rourke highlighted the devastation that the March nor’easters created.
“The main reason for this was due to the heaviness of snow on branches paired with the wind,” he told LocalSource.
Both evergreen and oak trees fell victim to the snowfall that saturated tree soil and the wind gusts that uprooted trees.

“Oak trees that came up had limited root area,” O’Rourke said. “The water puddled and winds came through.”
In servicing his customers throughout the area, O’Rourke told LocalSource that several oak trees had been uprooted in Mountainside.
For trees that look about to uproot, O’Rourke stressed tree inspection and maintenance.

He suggested that proactive homeowners inspect the bases of their trees and be aware of heaving mulch and any cracks or damage in their stems immediately, especially with trees located near the house foundation.

In addition to the five nor’easters that occurred this winter season, there were a number of modest storms in February, Robinson noted.
This active winter storm season “brought above average precipitation to New Jersey in February and March, and above average snowfall,” Robinson said. “They also brought occasional minor flooding to coastal areas and a fair amount of beach erosion.”