NJ wildfire closes Garden State Parkway: Thick smoke affects 25 miles of highway
🔴 The Garden State Parkway closed Friday morning
🔴 Heavy smoke from a wildfire is to blame
🔴 The wildfire from Thursday grew to 5,000 acres
UPDATE: The Garden State Parkway was reopened around 10 a.m. in both directions.
Thick fog and smoke from a wildfire forced the closure of over 25 miles of the Garden State Parkway on Friday morning.
The Turnpike Authority closed the highway in both directions between Exit 63 (Route 72) in Stafford Township and Exit 38 (Atlantic City Expressway) early in the Friday morning commute.
The smoke came from the Allen Road wildfire in the Bass River State Forest, which is the largest wildfire of the year. It has burned 5,000 acres. It was 50% contained as of Friday morning.
State Police and the Turnpike Authority gave no indication of when the road would reopen.
New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said that the calm wind and a temperature inversion are to blame for creating the poor visibility.
"A temperature inversion means if you were to climb up a very tall ladder through the lowest part of the atmosphere, you would find temperatures rising with height. Usually, when you go up it gets colder," Zarrow said. "That temperature inversion serves as a lid. Trapping fog, smoke, and poor quality air close to the surface."
Temperatures began rising around 8 a.m., causing dramatic improvement in visibility, according to Zarow.
Once the temperature rises from the early morning level of 60 degrees, the inversion should go away and the smoky, foggy visibility issues should improve, Zarrow said.
The closure caused heavy traffic around many Parkway interchanges as drivers came upon closed ramps. Route 9 in the Bass River area was especially slow.
The Ocean County Board of Social Services asked clients to allow for extra time due to the Parkway closure.