New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning ahead of a major winter storm that is forecast to sweep through much of the northeast in the evening, bringing heavy snow, sleet and high winds.
The state of emergency will become effective at 2 p.m. on Wednesday and will give first responders the power to close roads, commandeer equipment and resources and evacuate homes. Additionally, Murphy announced that state offices would close at 1 p.m.
“This has the potential to be a real whopper,” Murphy said at a press conference on Monday.
The nor’easter will bring a wintery mix to much of the mid-Atlantic region early Wednesday which will convert to snow as the storm descends on Northern New Jersey and New York, with forecasters predicting snow totals as high as 18 inches for portions of the state.
According to the National Weather Service’s New York Office, snow will begin to develop for much of the area in the afternoon and will pick up between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday, when as much as one to three inches of snow could fall per hour. Newark is currently projected to see between 12 to 18 inches of snow from the storm.
In response to the storm, Seton Hall announced that it would close its campus to all non-essential personnel starting at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday and all day Thursday, advising employees who can to instead work remotely.
On Tuesday, the weather service issued a winter storm warning for 13 of New Jersey’s central and northern counties, including Essex County, in anticipation of winds as high as 45 miles-per-hour and wet, heavy snow that may down tree limbs and power lines. According to the warning, the conditions could make travel “very difficult to impossible.”
Projections from the weather service are warning that the impact to northern New Jersey will range from major to extreme and may disrupt daily life, such as potential loss of power.
Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Colonel Pat Callahan said in a press conference on Wednesday that the state has activated its state emergency operation center and anticipates it will be open until as late as Thursday afternoon to respond to the impending snow.
Seton Hall issued a notice Tuesday afternoon announcing that University parking would be restricted to levels two through four of the parking deck until Friday in anticipation of the snow to allow for plowing. Failure to remove a vehicle will result in ticketing and towing, according to the notice from University Parking Services Director Ann Szipszky (‘86).
South Orange’s Office of Emergency Management similarly reminded residents with on-street parking permits to move their cars to the nearest municipal lot to allow for plowing. The Village also discouraged any travel Wednesday night into Thursday and expects the first inch of snow to cover pavement sometimes between 3 to 5 p.m.
Residents of the Village will be required to clear snow from their sidewalks within 12 daylight hours following snowfall.
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @nickdotkerr.