Nov. 15, 2018.

A disaster day for Gov. Phil Murphy and as a result for the entire state. That was the day he completely botched his handling of the first big snowstorm of that season.

He was green. People’s lawns weren’t. Covered in white snow New Jersey stood by and waited for a response.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of one. Orders were slow to be given. Kids ended up separated from parents spending hours deep into the evening trapped at their schools. Or on buses. Drivers across the state were stranded on highways that turned into unplowed parking lots.

And it wasn’t an unreasonable amount of snow to deal with. There was nothing ending with “of the century” about this one. One of the deepest snow totals by the following day was Bethlehem in Hunterdon County at 10 inches, but most of New Jersey got much less than that.

There was no real accounting for or excuse for the disaster. Just poor management.

Yet there was Murphy as usual deflecting blame as best he could. He tried to claim officials had to “turn on a dime” from an inaccurate forecast.

That was a lie. Our Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow had called it with plenty of time to prepare.

“This is also the first storm of the year, mid-November, so you’re going through the reps for the first time that you’ve had to since nine months ago.”

So this was just practice?

“And folks are out there aggressively doing the best they can.”

Yes, THEY were, but they couldn’t start until orders were given, and you failed Phil.

"Again, I don’t blame folks for being, you know, sitting there in a parking lot, being frustrated. But again, patience. Mother Nature has thrown us a real tough one tonight and we’re going to clear the roads out.”

Gee, thanks for not blaming us for having been frustrated Phil. But we’re going to go ahead and blame you.

I still remember the former governor, Chris Christie, calling in on our show (not on any hotline mind you; just the regular call-in line) like any other ordinary furious driver. He gave his own story like so many did that day of all the hours he’d been trapped.

Then we all remember what came next. The classic Murphy overcorrection. The brining. The constant overbrining of the roads. Days that there were barely flurries forecast. Brine. Days that it was too warm for snow to stick. Brine.

Frankly, it was embarrassing.

I thought of that Monday afternoon with his declaring a state of emergency in advance of the nor’easter hitting. Did it make sense? Probably, just in case. Was it political? Oh, you betcha.

The Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli called Murphy out in media and to his face during a live debate about the night Ida hit. Pennsylvania’s governor declared a state of emergency long before the rains hit whereas Murphy waited until something like 10 p.m. that night when people were already stranded and several had already been swept away by floodwaters. Ciattarelli’s point was that while procedural, a state of emergency could have served to get people to take the storm more seriously.

You can bet his decision Monday was equally a cover-his-ass move as it was precautionary. He didn’t want to allow a chance for more Ciattarelli sound bites like those with the election only a week ago.

When it comes to handling weather emergencies it seems Murphy has never had it quite right. He’s never been out in front of it but more chasing from behind.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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