Supercells and Tourism Mark the Summer of 2012

August 17, 2012
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By Thomas A. Arnone

Typical summer sunny days, all is well and things are going great. When out of nowhere… bamm you’re hit with a “supercell!”

Some might wonder, exactly what is a supercell? No, it’s not the latest in electronic devices. A supercell is a thunderstorm that is distinguishable by the presence of a deep, persistent rotating updraft. For this reason, these storms are sometimes referred to as rotating thunderstorms. There are four classifications of thunderstorms (supercell, squall line, multi-cell, and single-cell), and supercells are the overall least common yet have the potential to be the most severe. Supercells are often isolated from other thunderstorms and can dominate the local climate up to 20 miles away.

Supercells can occur anywhere in the world under the right pre-existing weather conditions, although they are most common in the Great Plains of the United States, in an area known as Tornado Alley.

However, on Sunday, July 29, 2012, Monmouth County experienced firsthand the devastation that can occur from one of these supercell storms after Freehold Bor­ough took a beating. Freehold Borough was hit with a supercell storm and left severe damage to trees, homes and loss of electric power. Almost every street in the borough was blocked with downed trees and/or wires.

Immediately following the storm, our county administrator and director of public works and engineering met with borough officials and offered assistance from the county. The divisions of highway and shade tree were quickly mobilized and proceeded to open borough streets and remove debris from county roads. The division of fleet services deployed light towers and variable message boards throughout the borough.

The county’s personnel and operations received recognition and gratitude from Freehold Borough Mayor Higgins for the immediate action taken to help remedy the situation. The county continued to provide support and remove debris throughout the entire week. As a result of the county’s effort, over 25 percent of the borough streets were cleared.

On behalf of the board of chosen freeholders, it gives me great pleasure to thank our administrator and all the personnel of the Monmouth County Department of Public Works and Engineering for stepping up and jumping in so readily to assist one of our municipalities during their time of need. Fantastic job.

Tremendous team effort!

As liaison to the department of public information and tourism, I am also very pleased to be able to provide you with the following news and information.

Tourism is New Jersey’s fifth largest industry, generating $39 billion in revenue.

Tourism in Monmouth County supports both large and small businesses. Each year Monmouth County sees over 4 million visitors. In 2011 our visitors spent $1,986 billion dollars.

In 2011, visitors to Monmouth County spent $499 million on food, $439 million on accommodations, $425 million on recreation and entertainment, $357 million on retail purchases and $266 million on transportation. This visitor spending resulted in visitors paying $264 million in state and local taxes.

Tourism in Monmouth County supports 30,056 jobs. This represents 10 percent of Monmouth County’s total employment figure.

In July 2012, hotels and B & B’s reported very strong bookings and felt August was also looking strong. Rest­aurants reported that Thurs­day through Sunday were all very strong days in the business.

Additionally, the major events in Monmouth County reported record crowds. Belmar Seafood Festival reported that 150,000 people attended the festival. Record crowds were also reported at the Bradley Beach Lobster Festival and the Ocean Fest in Long Branch with crowds estimated at 100,000 people.

Monmouth County Public Information and Tourism had a presence at both the Seafood Festival in Belmar and Ocean Fest in Long Branch. Depart­ment representatives greeted the public with information about
county services and offered giveaways highlighting the county website.

To further highlight the success of the department of public information and tourism, the Shore EZride Jitney is now in its second year of service. In 2011, more than 1,500 people rode the jitney from NJ Transit train stations to the beaches. So far, in 2012 EZride passenger count has increased to 2,700 people as of Aug. 5, and with four more weeks of service left in the season.

That equals good news for Monmouth County as we predict that number to continue to increase. The jitney runs in the towns of Long Branch, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach taking riders from the train station to the beachfront and the downtown business areas.

The Monmouth County Department of Public Infor­mation and Tourism continues to keep visitors and residents informed by having an increased presence at various functions. We are currently working with officials from the Borough of Manasquan, helping them promote and market their 125th Anni­versary Lighted Boat Parade. Public information and tourism has put together a video for the promotion of the event and has served on the committee to help create the celebration. The department will have a presence at the Aug. 21 event and will video the parade and event.

The department of public information and tourism will continue its efforts toward outreach and assistance to help with the promotion and marketing of special events and tourism-related businesses throughout Monmouth County. The board of chosen freeholders recognizes these accomplishments and supports the continued efforts made by the department and look forward to working together to create many more ways of letting people know that Monmouth County really is the place you want to be.

Thomas Arnone is the deputy director of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

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