Powerful NJ wind storm: Cars on fire, power outages
It's a two-hands-on-the-wheel morning as gusty winds and heavy rain swept across New Jersey, knocking out power for thousands.
NJ Transit has suspended service on the Gladstone Branch between Gladstone and Stirling due to signal issues.
"Friday morning's squall line would have been impressive in the middle of summer thunderstorm season, never mind the middle of February. For all of 10-15 minutes, the rain poured and the wind howled," New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said.
"Now that the nastiest weather is behind us, we look ahead to the return of tumbling temperatures and more 'February-ish' weather heading into the weekend."
A 69 mph wind gust was reported at Barnegat Light and a 60 mph gust at nearby Mystic Island, according to the National Weather Service.
Storm damage in NJ on Friday
A power line fell on Arcadia Road in Hackensack around 1:15 a.m causing several cars to catch fire, according to the Hackensack Fire Department. Winds were gusting to around 30 mph at the time, according to Zarrow, but the incident remains under investigation.
Thousands in the dark
As of 8:30 a.m., approximately 15,000 utility customers without power across New Jersey are without power, with northern and central counties the hardest hit.
- JCP&L: 12,611 customers out mostly in Hunterdon (Alexandra, Kingwood Township and Lambertville), Monmouth (Oceanport), Morris (Roxbury Township and Washington Township) and Someset (Hillsborough)
- PSE&G: 3,062 customers out mostly in Burlington (Burlington Twp) and Mercer (Ewing and Trenton) counties
- ACE and Orange and Rockland reporting scattered outages.
JCP&L spokesman Christopher Hoenig told New Jersey 101.5 that the utility is not estimating times for restoration until crews a chance to get out and see the damage firsthand.
"We do have a rather high number of outage orders in the northern part of the state, which indicates damage which is isolated to a single or two or three customers. These are always the most complex and time-consuming repairs," Hoenig said. "It takes the same amount of time to repair power for one customer that's out as it does for another outage that's affecting 2,000 customers."
Hoenig said that in many cases they've been able to re-route power around areas of damage.
"In some of these outages, we've been able to restore up to 90% of customers who were initially affected just by switching. However those last 10% that's what adds up over the course of the day."
Hoenig said that wind speeds of over 40 mph will keep the bucket trucks on the ground until they decrease for safety concerns.