It’s the middle of February, and there is some precipitation in the forecast over the next day or so — but it will fall in the form of rain, not snow.

So once again, New Jersey Department of Transportation plow and salt trucks won't be needed. That’s been the case for most of the past two months.

“This winter we’ve responded to 22 events, and that compares to about 30 through the same time frame last year,” said Steve Schapiro, the deputy director of communications for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

He said fewer winter weather events means less money has been spent on plowing, salting and sanding.

“This winter we’ve spent approximately $36.9 million for the entire winter," he said. "The entire winter of last year we spent $95.1 million and had a total of 44 events.”

He said while we’ve had fewer storms and spent a lot less money fighting Old Man Winter this season, it’s hard to really compare one winter to another.

“The severity of the winter depends of course on the number of storms, but also the length of the storm, what type of storm it is, was it snow, was it freezing rain or is it a combination," he said.

Another important factor: Whether a storm only affects a portion of New Jersey, or it's a statewide event.

“So all those things factor into how much material and cost it takes to keep our roads clear and safe during the winter," Schapiro said.

Schapiro said out the DOT starts with about 265,000 tons of road salt every winter, but “this season we’ve used approximately 120,000 tons of salt. Last year for the entire winter we used about 285,00 tons of salt.”

He said as salt supplies drop during the winter, they are replenished every week or so.

“We have plenty of salt for the rest of the year, and that salt does carry over from year to year and can be used in the following winter," Schapiro said.

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In an average winter over the last nine years or so, he said, there have been about 35 events and more than 300,000 tons of salt used.

He said for the most part, this season's precipitation has been rain, but in the northwest corner of the state, that rain has occasionally changed to sleet, freezing rain, ice and some snow.

“So whenever that happens our crews need to activate and be out there to make sure we’re keeping those roads safe and clear for motorists," Schapiro

Schapiro said every year the DOT starts with a budget of about $10 million for snow removal but “as the winter progresses we’re reimbursed by the Department of Treasury for any expenditures beyond that and the state has never failed to cover all of our snow removal expenses.”

He also pointed out “we have not brined as much this year, compared to last, because most of our events have starts as rain.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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