(TNS) - New Jersey officials on Tuesday urged residents to stay home as Tropical Storm Isaias pummels the state with heavy rain, dangerous wind gusts, flooding, and tornadoes.
“We believe we are ready for it,” Gov. Phil Murphy said of the storm during a morning news conference at the state’s Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge.
Still, Murphy said, “we’re asking you to stay home unless you absolutely have to go out.”
“Every county and every part of the state will get hit to some degree by this,” he added.
The governor said the storm will intensify through the late morning and last into the evening, with the western parts of the state getting the heaviest rain and the Jersey Shore getting the strongest winds.
“You’re looking at somewhere between six to nine hours of a fairly intensive weather experience,” he said.
Officials also said there’s the potential for heavy winds and downed trees to leave hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power.
Murphy declared a state of emergency that took effect at 5 a.m. It doesn’t impose travel restrictions, but officials are calling on residents to stay off the roads. He also closed state offices.
Isaias is tracking further west than first expected, Murphy said, which is why the western half of the state will get the most rain — up to 5 inches in some ares. But the governor stressed all of the state will get some rain.
There may also be flooding in low-lying areas prone to flooding, he said. The entire state is under a flash flood watch, a tornado watch, and a tropical storm warning.
Coastal parts of New Jersey could see wind gusts as strong as 70 mph, while other areas could see 45 mph gusts, Murphy said.
Murphy said forecasters say this is a fast-moving storm, which means it should clear the state by the evening.
“The coming days should give us an opportunity to dry out,” the governor added.
More than 60,000 power outages have already been reported across New Jersey as of 11 a.m., but that number is expected to grow as the storm moves northward.
Murphy said one electric provider said it could take as much as a week to get power restored to some houses, though most will have their issues fixed within a day or two or three.
”We’re hoping for the best and prepare for the worst,” Murphy added.
Joseph Fiordaliso, commissioner of the state Board of Public Utilities, said the number of outages depends on the track of the storm and wind gusts.
“It’s really incumbent upon us not to mislead anyone, there is a potential that there will be hundreds of thousands of outages due to this storm,” Fiordaliso said. “Wind can be our potential enemy here, which can delay, obviously, restoration. So let’s hope that the wind does not get to the point where it’s going to be detrimental to the restoration efforts.”
“If those winds are in excess of 40 mph, those folks cannot go up into bucket trucks,” he added.
Fiordaliso said thousands of out-of-state crews coming into New Jersey to help with outages.
”We should have the personnel necessary to restore as quickly as possibly,” he said.
Officials implored residents that if they do lose power, call your provider immediately. Plus, they said, stay away from downed power lines.
Isaias made landfall as a category 1 hurricane Monday night in North Carolina, though it was downgraded to a tropical storm by the morning. It has been tracking up the I-95 corridor.
New Jerseyans can visit http://ready.nj.gov/ for emergency information.
NJ Advance Media staff writer Jeff Goldman contributed to this report.
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