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State of Emergency in N.J. for Blizzard, 18 Inches of Snow

The governor stressed the storm will have a “long tail” and said people should get any supplies they need as soon as possible to stay off the roads beginning late Friday afternoon through Sunday.

Shoveling snow in Somerville, N.J. Tuesday, February, 12, 2019
(Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for
(TNS) - Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency Friday as a snowstorm is expected to slam parts of New Jersey with blizzard conditions and up to 18 inches of snow along the Jersey Shore and statewide totals ranging from 4 inches to a foot.

The state of emergency goes into effect beginning at 5 p.m. Murphy also said there to be a commercial travel ban put in place beginning at that time.

“This one is a big one,” Murphy said Wednesday at a news conference on the storm. “We’re certainly hoping for the best but we are, without question, preparing for the worst.”

“Our advice to everyone is to be prepared to hunker down after you get home tonight,” he said, adding, “Stay home ... (and) get yourself stocked up.”

The governor stressed the storm will have a “long tail” and said people should get any supplies they need as soon as possible to stay off the roads beginning late Friday afternoon through Sunday.

“We’re going to need some time to dig out from this thing,” he said.

RELATED: Here’s what a ‘state of emergency’ really means

A blizzard warning has been issued for the five counties along the Jersey Shore and winter storm warnings have been upgraded for nearly the entire state. The blizzard advisory, which indicates a dangerous combination of high winds, blowing snow and low visibility — includes Atlantic, Cape May, eastern Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The snow is expected to start falling by 7 p.m. in South Jersey when all the warnings take effect and later Friday night in central and North Jersey, according to the National Weather Service. Some spots could see snow as early as 4 p.m. Snow and gusty winds that could be a strong as 50 mph are expected to continue until into Saturday afternoon.

Officials said they expect power outages in the southern part of the state where winds are expected to be more of a problem.

The Jersey Shore and southeast Burlington County is expected to get 8 to 15 inches of snow as winds gust as high 50 mph but up to 18 inches is possible. Blizzard conditions are most likely with a few miles of the coast from late Friday night until about mid-day Saturday, the weather service said. Power outages are possible as well.

Under the weather service’s technical definition, a blizzard needs to have all of these conditions during a period of three hours or longer: falling and/or blowing snow, sustained winds or frequent wind gusts of 35 mph or stronger and visibility frequently reduced to a quarter-mile or less.

Here’s how the forecast is shaping up elsewhere in the Garden State, according to the weather service.

  • Camden, Gloucester, Middlesex, Mercer, northwest  Burlington, Salem and Somerset: 4 to 11 inches of accumulation with winds gusts of up to 35 mph.
  • Bergen, Essex, Union and eastern Passaic: 4 to 7 inches with winds gusts as high as 40 mph.
  • Hudson: 6 to 9 inches and maximum winds gusts of 45 mph
  • Morris  and  Hunterdon : 3 to 6 inches with winds gusting up to 35 mph
  • Western Passaic: 4 to 6 inches and winds gusting as high as 35 mph
  • Sussex and Warren: 2 to 4 inches with top wind gusts reaching 40 mph

Here’s a recap of what the state of emergency means:

Q: Why does the governor declare a state of emergency?

A: The decision is made to help respond to hazardous weather conditions or in anticipation as quickly as possible to prevent or alleviate “damages, loss, hardship or suffering,” according to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. In collaboration with county and local public safety officials, the state can close roads, evacuate homes and commandeer equipment or other resources to protect public safety.

The declaration allows the state to ask for federal assistance or reimbursement for extraordinary expenses.

Q: Do I have to stay home? Am I allowed to drive?

A: The governor urged all nonessential personnel to stay off the roads so not to interfere with law enforcement and emergency responders. An emergency declaration doesn’t mean motorists will be ticketed for merely being on the roads, and “essential” personnel is not defined by law.

If conditions were to worsen and driving needs to be restricted for public safety reasons, officials will alert the public “using all available means, including, but not limited to: the Emergency Alert System, urgent press releases, DOT highway signs, and law enforcement teletypes.”

Q: If I can’t get to work because of the storm or my boss says I don’t have to come in, does the emergency declaration enable me to argue I should get paid?

A: No, unless you have a contract that says so. The state does not get involved in private workplace decisions.

Q: Are state offices closed during an emergency?

A: The governor has the choice to close state offices.

Q: Where can I find up-to-date information about the storm and road conditions?

A: Monitor the social media accounts for the Office of Emergency Management and the N.J. State Police :

NJ Advance Media Staff Writer Jeff Goldman contributed to this report.

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