New Jersey declares emergency ahead of coastal winter storm

Dog walkers brave the snow and wind in Hoboken, N.J., Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Snowfall is picking up in the Northeast as the region braced for a whopper of a storm that could dump well over a foot of snow in many areas, create blizzard-like conditions and cause travel problems for the next few days. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Dog walkers brave the snow and wind in Hoboken, N.J., Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Snowfall is picking up in the Northeast as the region braced for a whopper of a storm that could dump well over a foot of snow in many areas, create blizzard-like conditions and cause travel problems for the next few days. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has declared a state of emergency for his state at 5 p.m. Friday ahead of a coastal winter storm. A restriction on commercial vehicle travel will go into effect at that time.

The governor also announced that state offices will close at 3 p.m.

Officials are encouraging residents to stay off the roads and let road crews work to keep travel lanes clear. Murphy also encouraged people to pick up what they need for a snow day as they travel home from work.

“Our advice to everyone is to be prepared to hunker down once you get home this afternoon and stay home,” said Murphy. “Stay home tonight and stay home tomorrow.”

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A majority of the state is under a winter storm warning. Counties along the Jersey Shore including southern Burlington County are under a Blizzard Warning. Both weather advisories go into effect at 7 p.m.

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The National Weather Service says the storm will affect the region beginning Friday Night and continuing into Saturday. According to the latest storm briefing, areas west of the New Jersey Turnpike are expected to receive four to eight inches. Immediately east of the turnpike, up to a foot of snow is predicted. The shore is expected to see between 12 to 18 inches of snow.

“The worst of this storm is going to be felt in the eastern half of our state,” the governor said.

The commercial vehicle restrictions will be in place on several interstates in the state including I-76 and I-295. The restriction affects tractor trailers, empty straight CDL-weighted trucks, passenger vehicles pulling trailers, recreational vehicles, and motorcycles.

“We are coordinating with our neighboring states,” Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccettisaid of the vehicle restriction. “It’s very helpful when we do any kind of vehicle ban to be able to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Atlantic City announced that vehicles parked on snow emergency routes after 5 p.m. will be subject to towing. Residents can park for free at the Wave Parking Garage at 2200 Fairmount Avenue from 3 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Sunday.

In Burlington County, it’s a waiting game, according to county spokesman David Levinsky. While southern Burlington County is under a blizzard warning, the northern part of the county is under a winter storm warning. He adds that the county is prepared to shift resources should the situation warrant.

The state is also anticipating possible power outages, with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour predicted along the coast.

Power utilities are preparing, but the storm will make repairing outages hard.

Jersey Central Power and Light, which serves more than a million customers, some on the northern part of the shore, is readying its crews to respond to outages by putting snow chains on trucks and positioning them in strategic locations, said spokesperson Chris Hoenig. But the utility anticipates longer outages than usual, because of the storm.

“When winds are gusting above 35, 40 miles an hour, we will keep those bucket [trucks] grounded,” Hoenig said. “So that does limit sometimes the response time that we have when there are outages.”

Hoenig advises customers to prepare for possible outages by gathering blankets and batteries. If your power goes out, do not use your gas stove for heat, or run generators in your garage or basement, because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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