Storm hits New Jersey

March 1, 2009 8:43:54 PM PST
A massive storm system with the potential to drop up to a foot of snow in some areas reached New Jersey on Sunday night, just hours after Gov. Jon S. Corzine said the state was prepared for what could be a costly weather event. Snow began falling early Sunday night in most areas, but no major traffic problems were reported. By 10:30 p.m., nearly 3 inches of snow was reported in the southern Jersey towns of Cape May Court House and Vineland, while about 2 inches had fallen in Manchester Township in central Jersey.

Most northern areas were reporting a coating of snow, mostly on cold and grassy surfaces. However, the worst of the storm was expected to hit early Monday morning, when heavy snows and strong winds were expected to create blizzard-like conditions.

All of New Jersey was under a winter storm warning that was due to remain in effect through Monday afternoon. Most areas were expected to see 8 to 12 inches of snow - with slightly higher amounts possible in northern areas.

The Monday morning commute was expected to be treacherous, so officials were urging residents to stay home. Those who had to travel were told to allow extra travel time because roads were expected to be slick and slippery and visibilities were likely to be limited. A handful of schools had already canceled classes for Monday, and the state Senate canceled all its scheduled committee meetings.

NJ Transit said it would cross-honor tickets on its rail and bus systems Monday to give riders more travel options. And passengers planning to fly out of Newark Liberty International Airport were urged to call their carriers to see if their flights were delayed or canceled.

Speaking during a news conference Sunday afternoon, Corzine said the storm could cost the state anywhere from about $2.5 million to $7 million, depending on its severity. So far, New Jersey has spent about $22 million on this winter's "frequent snow events," an amount that's about twice as much as what was budgeted for this year.

Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said that agency had 308 plow trucks ready to go, and up to 280 private contractors who could be called in to help if necessary. It also had about 150,000 tons of salt to spread on the turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

Erin Phalon, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said it had almost 2,000 trucks ready to help clear the roads. Crews began salting the roads late Sunday afternoon to help prevent ice from forming later in the night.

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Associated Press Writer Samantha Henry contributed to this report.

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