State dodges weather bullet but roads still wreak havoc

The storm may have over promised and under delivered, but that didn’t mean that conditions weren’t ugly throughout the state, especially north and west. Gov. Murphy spent much of the day getting briefed on conditions and getting a look for himself.

“The afternoon commute will likely be a slow slog, as roads will remain slick with any residual ice and freezing rain. As the system transitions to all rain, we may see flooding in low-lying areas and some urban streets,” Murphy said.

Plows were mostly in the up position as precipitation turned quickly from snow to sleet to freezing rain, leaving a slushy mess and slippery road surfaces.

There have been travel restrictions issued for most of the day for some of the state’s major highways, including Route 80, but it will not surprise you to learn that a lot of commercial vehicles have ignored that message, and it would also probably not surprise you to learn that there have been a lot of accidents around the state.

By and large, accidents appeared to be minor, although plentiful, with more than 500 reported across the state. But every motor vehicle accident comes with its resulting traffic tie ups and there was a lot of that Tuesday. State police said they were on the lookout for crashes and offenders of the travel restrictions on commercial vehicles.

“We do that for a reason, although we sometimes may take heat over it with regard to commerce. It really, at the end of the day, our responsibility is to the motoring public and to the safety and well-being of people throughout the state, whether you live here or whether you’re traveling through it,” said State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan.

Power outages were minor according to the Board of Public Utilities, and many school districts had canceled classes or delayed openings. State offices and many local governments had closed for the day. The governor said he was okay with critics who suggested he was employing a ton of prevention for just a pound of cure.

“You make decisions as best you can. You call on balls and strikes as best you can, but as long as public safety is job number one, and it is job number one for me and our team, we’re gonna err on the side of rather be safe than sorry,” Murphy said.

The state’s spent roughly a third of what it did last year on weather response with more than a month to go before the start of spring. And Mother Nature has shown repeatedly that she can be unpredictable, so you should ignore her at your peril.