Blizzard warning for NJ: Prepare for power outages, dangerous roads
TRENTON — New Jersey prepared for Thursday's snow while keeping the icy temperatures in mind.
Meteorologist Dan Zarrow is watching the track of the storm closely for any wobbles in the track to the west that could increase the amount of snow that falls inland.
"I’ve settled on a forecast of 5 or 6 inches of snow accumulation for coastal Monmouth, most of Ocean, southeastern Burlington, most of Atlantic, and most of Cape May counties. Between that swath and the NJ Turnpike corridor, 3+ inches is a good bet. To the north and west, just an inch or two."
A Blizzard Warning was issued for Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties for accumulations of 6-10 inches and wind gusts of 50 mph, which would cause difficult travel during the Thursday morning commute.
High winds after the storm and snow could bring down power lines for prolonged periods. PSE&G's Karen Johnson said that their linesmen will not go up in the bucket truck if winds exceed 40 mph. If temperatures dip below 10 degrees they will also not do routine maintenance.
"They will do any emergency work such as repair lines that may come down in the storm at any temperature," Johnson said. They will be well prepared for the storm with their normal flame retardant uniforms and will wear multiple layers on with hoods underneath their hard hats.
"The goal is obviously to keep them safe but also to restore power if any emergency arises," Johnson said.
PSE&G also has extra personnel on hand, including contractors and tree crews, to assist the utility’s own workforce as quickly as possible and handle emergency requests.
Johnson said that between Christmas to New Year’s Day, PSE&G responded to more than 15,300 no-heat calls – making it the busiest holiday week in nearly 20 years.
CEO Ana Montero of the American Red Cross New Jersey Region suggested several steps to get ready for winter storm conditions including:
- Have at least a three-day supply of water and non-perishable, easy to prepare food as well as a seven-day supply of medications.
- If you need to go outside, dress in layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm.
- Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
- Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will help keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Bring the pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
- Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.
- Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home.
- Space heaters should sit on a level, hard surface and anything flammable should be kept at least three feet away.
- If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
- Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
- Have a plan in place for potential power outages. Keep cell phones charged and have flashlights handy.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation's crews will activate as soon as the snow begins for their 12th event of the season. No pre-treatment is necessary of the roads with brine because of recent storms. But the extreme cold will present some challenges as the snow will begin to stick immediately, according to spokesman Stephen Schapiro.
"Salt is less effective at extreme cold temperatures," Schapiro explained. Liquid calcium will be sprayed onto the rock sale to help it to work more effectively.
Schapiro said that the DOT's priority is to keep the roads open. "We're going to do what we need to do to make sure that's the case."
Despite the timing of the storm during the morning commute, NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said the agency's Emergency Operation Center will monitor conditions and have crews and equipment placed in "strategic locations."
Regular weekday morning service is expected on rail, light rail and buses with cross-honoring in effect between light rail, buses, private carriers and rail.
Access Link is suspending morning service in Atlantic, Cape May and South Ocean counties until noon. All certification trips and transfer trips statewide are cancelled as well.