A slick coating of snow and ice fell on New Jersey

Jersey roads today, leading to hundreds of accidents and widespread slow going during the evening commute.

Snow this afternoon changed over to freezing rain and sleet by evening, a treacherous combination whose timing seemed pegged to the rush-hour slog home. As of early this evening, the majority of the accidents were spinouts or minor collisions, and no serious injuries were reported, according to the State Police.

The wicked weather's effects were expected to linger until Thursday, with a flood watch in effect for Bergen, Camden, Passaic, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Burlington, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

Today's wrecks were scattered throughout the state, but appeared slightly worse in South Jersey, where numerous crashes occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 295 in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, police said.

In Linden, an afternoon accident involving a tractor trailor and a number of cars on northbound Routes 1&9 kept the northbound lanes closed until about 3 p.m., police Sgt. William Turbett said.

Icy road conditions contributed to the crash, which caused five people to have minor injuries, police said. Linden police were handling 20 accidents during the afternoon. On most days, they only get two, they said.
Jerry McCrea/The Star-LedgerRescue crews work at the scene of an accident involving a commerical van and a car on Route 287 in Morristown.

In Edison, Route 1 North was shut down for more than five hours after a garbage truck collided with a pick-up and then struck a utility pole as a result of the icy conditions, Sgt. Tom Marino said.

No one was injured, but a three-quarter mile stretch of Route 1 between the two intersections where Old Post Road crosses the highway was closed at 2 p.m., Marino said. The road remained shut down five hours later, with no relief in sight, he said.

"It's a mess, not counting the hundreds of other accidents we have," Marino said.

Woodbridge police received 47 reports of accidents in less than three hours, including one crash where a utility pole was knocked down onto Route 9 near Green Street, leaving one lane open for much of the rush hour.

"As officers are coming to work, we're sending them out to accidents," Lt. George Conklin said.

The state Department of Transportation had more than 1,300 plows and trucks out on the state's highways, spreading salt to prevent to roads from icing up, spokeswoman Erin Phalon said.

But crews faced challenges because of the combination of freezing rain, dropping temperatures and the rush-hour traffic influx, Phalon said.

"Our crews are working as quickly as they can to plow and salt the roadways," she said.

Starting at 1:30 p.m., the New Jersey Turnpike Authority reduced the speed limit to 45 mph along the turnpike from Interchange 8 up to the George Washington Bridge, authority spokesman Joe Orlando said.

Orlando said workers started spreading salt around 11 a.m. and would continue through the night to keep ice off the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Between the two highways, the authority had 253 of its own plows working, and another 126 contractors focused only on the Parkway, he said.

In addition to the trouble on the roads, arriving flights faced delays of more than an hour at the region's three airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Some departing flights were also slowed at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to the FAA.

On Wednesday, expect a messy morning commute as slushy conditions are left behind from the storm. It will slowly start to warm up, reaching the lower 40s.

The dangerous conditions move out late Wednesday, leading to a nice Thursday. The flood watch is scheduled to be lifted Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday will be mostly cloudy with some rain or snow at night. Saturday will be cold under partly sunny skies.

No comments: