Snow makes for slow, messy commute in New Jersey
New Jersey drivers are dealing with slushy and snow-covered roads as the changeover from rain to snow is nearly complete across much of the state Thursday morning.
"Conditions are going to deteriorate quickly," says meteorologist Dan Zarrow, who is calling for 6-9 inches to fall by the time snow ends Thursday evening. "They'll be very messy later."
Road crews were in position and ready for the snow, according to New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Stephen Schapiro. "Conditions can change quickly and it is important to reduce speed and leave a safe following distance behind other vehicles," he said. For plows to be most effective, they operate at speeds no higher than 30 MPH, a pace that can create "plow train" backups.
New Jersey State Police say they have responded to over150 accidents on Thursday morning across the state with their north district, which covers roughly the area north of Interstate 78 having the most incidents with 58. Spokesman Stephen Jones says many of the incidents are minor and may not require a police report.
New Jersey Fast Traffic reports a coruple of jackknifed tractor trailers including one on I-287 in Mahwah that closed the road northbound near Route 17 for several hours. Another one on the New Jersey Turnpike around exit #8A in Jamesburg temporarily closed the southbound truck lanes.
Many schools and businesses have closed for the day or delayed their openings, making for lighter than normal traffic while plowing proceeds. "But we do expect it to get worse as the day goes on," Schapiro said. For that reason, New Jerseyans are being advised to stay home unless travel is essential. Many communities are also asking residents to minimize street parking in order to facilitate plowing.
Speed reductions are in effect for most of the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike. Public transportation may be the best option for commuting today for those who must travel. NJ Transit will cross-honor tickets system-wide on rail, light rail and buses, though bus routes will likely experience delays as snow accumulates.
PATCO service between South Jersey and Philadelphia is on an irregular schedule due to weather, with service every 10 minutes during the morning and afternoon commutes and every 15 minutes during the midday.
Amtrak has advised that Northeast corridor Acela Express will operate on a modified schedule. Service adjustments can be expected between New York and Washington D.C.
Over 2,600 flights across the country have been canceled for Thursday, including hundreds of flights in-and-out of Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, Kennedy and Philadelphia, according to FlightAware.com.
Even DOT workers are tired of the snow. "This frequency of storms has been a challenge on everyone this winter," Schapiro said. "NJDOT crews and contractors are second to none. They do excellent work and take tremendous pride in the work they do to keep New Jersey’s highways clear and safe for the public,"