Goodbye to Mild Winter, Hello to Spring in Toms River

Golf courses, parks are big gathering places during 'winter that wasn't'

Despite a lack of accumulating snow in Toms River, the thought last Halloween – as North Jersey dealt with a mid-fall whallop of the white stuff – was that this winter would pick up where the last left off, breaking records and racking up million-dollar plowing efforts.

It wasn't to be.

As spring begins today, Toms River residents are joining fellow Shore denizens from Sandy Hook to Cape May to celebrate what the state climatologist's office has declared on its website to be the "winter that wasn't."

Rarely did a week go by without a day in the 60s all winter long, climate data shows, and this past February proved to be fifth mildest on record since 1895, when records started being kept by the state.

The largest accumulation came on Jan. 21, with 1.3 inches falling. Even during that storm, however, the snow was mostly mixed with rain and only could be measured on grassy surfaces.

The warmth has kept anglers fishing all winter long at local beaches and jetties, and golfers sticking to courses at a time when many flee to Florida to hit the links.

According to data compiled by Ocean County officials, the county's Forge Pond Golf Course in Brick brought in $36,980 during January and February. That's head over heels above the $9,263 the course has generated, on average, during the same time period the previous three years.

Similar increases have been seen at the county's other golf course, Atlantis, in Little Egg Harbor.

"The beautiful weather we have experienced in January and February of this year has been great golfing weather," said Freeholder John C. Bartlett, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation.

On the last day of winter, a few folks strolled down the sand at Brick Beach III. A kayak could be seen in the calm waters of Barnegat Bay off Bayview Park. And along "the wall" at Manasquan Inlet in Point Pleasant Beach, there were few parking spaces to had.

Island Beach State Park had no threat of filling to capacity, but cars rolled past the gates to enjoys the miles of beachfront.

On the Toms River, several local residents cast over the side of the bulkhead of Mathis Plaza, and outdoor dining was en force at Jack Baker's Water Street Grill.

Though there's a fog alert for the area heading into Tuesday night — the first night of spring — the mercury will bounce back to near 70 on Wednesday as the sun returns, with Thursday forecast to be the week's warmest day with a high in the mid to high 70s after some morning fog burns off.

Even if it gets chilly again, don't fret. Memorial Day is just 68 days away.

State snowfall data for the past winter can be found at the Office of the State Climatologist's website.


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