The threat of a second winter storm in two days had South Jersey town officials mobilizing Monday and wondering if they were in for another surprise.
"The hardest things to predict are snow events. You just don't know," Medford Township Manager Christopher Schultz said. "Whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us, we have to react."
Medford was the second-hardest-hit municipality in Burlington County; the storm dumped nine inches of snow there Sunday. Presidential Lakes had a foot.
While meteorologists were scratching their heads and trying to figure out what went wrong with Sunday's forecast, which called for a coating of snow or possibly an inch or two, town officials were getting ready Monday for more possible snow.
Another storm could develop Tuesday, with a warning of three to five inches in the Philadelphia area. Forecasters say the storm could last for several hours with temperatures in the low to mid-20s.
Camden County issued a Code Blue weather advisory in effect until Wednesday morning and urged residents to check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
Before the first snowflakes, crews also began pretreating Camden County roadways with liquid brine, and more than 60 pieces of equipment were available to salt and plow, officials said.
Cherry Hill also planned a large-scale deployment, said spokesman Bridget Palmer. Leaves piled up on curbs pose one of the biggest challenges for crews trying to clear snow, she said.
In West Deptford, trucks were reloaded Monday with 54 tons of salt, Township Administrator Eric Campo said. Crews will likely be deployed early Tuesday.
"We're ready to go. Let's hope it's not another nine-inch storm," Campo said.
Last winter, West Deptford used about 100 tons of salt and did not use its plows at all, said Ed Coates, public works manager.
The intense band of snow that moved across the region Sunday arrived earlier than expected and with more intensity. "The conditions changed drastically and it was bad," Schultz said.
Medford and other towns were forced to shift gears, calling in road crews earlier than expected and installing plows on trucks. Most had planned to only put down salt and sand.
"By about 1 o'clock, we knew that we were in trouble and that we had to fall back on the contingency plan," said Deptford Township Manager Robert Hatalovsky. "You have to be ready for the worst."
Town officials said they were able to react quickly and implement contingency plans to handle the snow accumulation. They said they planned to use the same strategies for the next storm - assuming the forecasters made the right call this time.
"We'll play it by ear and see. You have to be prepared for the worst," Hatalovsky said.