State of emergency declared in NJ: Blizzard could bury parts of state
The state of New Jersey is ready to battle Saturday's nor'easter that is expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow along the Jersey Shore.
A state of emergency that allows equipment and personnel to easily be moved will go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday along with a ban on commercial vehicles and motorcycles on most of the interstates and Route 440. The ban does not apply to the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said the storm will also bring gusty winds, near-zero visibility, coastal flooding and extreme cold. The winds could result in widespread power outages.
During a briefing on Friday at the Statewide Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state is ready for it all.
"We are preparing for a significant statewide snow event," Murphy said during his briefing. "Our advice to everyone is to be prepared to hunker down this afternoon and stay home. Stay home tonight, stay home tomorrow. Whatever you may need for a 'snow day' get it on your way home today so you do not have to venture out."
State offices including all MVC locations will close at 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
Avoid the roads this weekend
Murphy said Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti is coordinating the commercial ban with Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti and Murphy said that the storm will have a "long tail" with full cleanup lasting beyond the last flakes that fall.
"Even though the sun will be shining on Sunday we're going to need to time to dig out from this thing," Murphy said.
Plows, salters and even snowmobiles will be positioned on some hilly areas on Routes 78, 80 and 287 where accumulating snow can make travel conditions hazardous, according to State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan.
In the event of problems on the roads, Gutierrez-Scaccetti said that NJ 511 will allow the DOT to "fence in" a targeted area with information sent to cell phones.
COVID will not play a role in the DOT's ability to respond to the storm in terms of staffing equipment.
NJ Transit is suspending all bus, River Line and Access Link services at the start of the service day on Saturday but plans to resume service later in the day when it is safe to do so and conditions improve.
Rail, Newark Light Rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will operate on a normal schedule on Saturday "for as long as weather and road conditions allow," according to the agency.
Cross-honoring will be in effect for rail, bus, light rail and private carrier services on Saturday.
Callahan said some of the state-run COVID-19 vaccination megasites will not be open on Saturday due to the storm.
Power outages from blizzard
Public Utility Commissioner Joseph L. Fiordaliso said he expects the southern area of the JCP&L service area and Atlantic City Electric area to be most affected by the nor'easter's gusty winds.
"When you're getting gusts up to 50 or 60 miles per hour, you can expect power outages to occur. These people are going to be working throughout the night to restore power as quickly as possible," Fiordaliso said. "If those winds exceed 40 mph, it's dangerous for someone to go up in that bucket truck
Fiordaliso said if you lose power, call your provider and do not assume your neighbor did.