NJ Transit, Murphy, counties prep for first winter storm of 2022
Just as schools and businesses prepared to start the first week of 2022, a winter storm threatened to dump between 5 and 10 inches of snow in parts of coastal, southern New Jersey.
State offices would start Monday with a delayed opening of 10 a.m., Gov. Phil Murphy said during a remote storm briefing Sunday evening.
There would also be a state of emergency declared specifically for Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May Counties sometime overnight, as those counties were posed for a winter storm warning on Monday from 4 a.m. until 4 p.m., according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.
The state emergency operations center was being activated at midnight, according to State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan, who also noted the uncertainty of this storm for the area of Mercer, Middlesex and Monmouth counties.
NJ Transit has been at about 97% staffing, Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said during the same briefing, adding that the public transit agency had voiced confidence that bus service would be maintained during the storm.
Among the biggest challenges facing the state with this storm was "unpredictability," said Board of Public Utilities President Joe Fiordaliso, echoing Murphy on the recent volatility and sudden intensity of storms.
In addition to snow, 30 mph wind gusts were possible, Zarrow said, threatening power outages and keeping wind chills low throughout Monday.
Scacetti said the advice was for commuters to be mindful of the forecast and for those who could to avoid being out on the roads in the impacted areas on Monday, giving road crews time to clear any accumulation.
Atlantic County officials said in a written release on Sunday that roads would be treated and cleared as necessary, however, "due to some staffing shortages as a result of holiday travel and an increase in COVID-19 cases and exposures, county Public Works’ crews may not be at full strength."
The first priority would be clearing the major county roadways, in Atlantic County, as officials asked the public to "be patient while resources are deployed."
By 7 p.m., school districts in the counties with the messiest forecast were faced with additional concerns for in-person instruction, beyond the issue of the latest surge in COVID cases due to the omicron variant.