By Brenda Flanagan
A mid-morning white-out on Route 80. Snow fell at four inches an hour, piling up on highways faster than plows could clear it. Even though New Jersey’s Department of Transportation deployed 2,300 plows and salt trucks. In staggered formation, they pushed the snow aside in eastbound lanes near Paterson as traffic followed.
Meanwhile, just across the median, snow re-clogged westbound lanes. A bus finally slid to a stop, stuck in drifts. Cars and vans spun off roadways, hit their flashers and waited for help. Police reported 150 accidents by mid-afternoon.
“It’s coming down quite a bit — heavy snow — so even though the plows are doing their job, it doesn’t take that much — only a few minutes — for another inch or so of this heavy, wet snow to be on the road,” said a resident.
“I was just telling my son this is the worst I’ve seen since the Blizzard of ’96 — and I’ve been plowing a long time,” said Tom Fratesi.
In Hunterdon County, landscaper Tom Fratesi said, even after snow turned to sleet and rain you couldn’t tell he’d spent hours clearing the roads.
“I was just here an hour ago and it looks like we weren’t even here. So, yeah, it’s coming down pretty good,” Fratesi said.
As expected, heavy snow delayed many trains system-wide — and commuters found some trains canceled. This winter, they’re getting used to it.
“Some of trains weren’t running out of New York Penn. The Morris and Essex lines weren’t running. I’m just grateful the Raritan lines were running,” said Nancy Derbyshire.
The storm grounded most flights both in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport. Weary travelers lined up at ticket counters trying to reschedule, re-route and recover. River crossings — like the Holland Tunnel — fared better.
Plows passed frequently, toll booths green-lighted the lanes, but the state of emergency declared by Gov. Chris Christie yesterday persuaded most folks to stay home, where they encountered a completely different problem — snow-covered cars.
In Lambertville, weary residents cleaned up after this latest storm, including Aladar Komjathy.
“I’m not surprised. We were prepared for it, we knew it was coming. They prepared us. Best thing is, I’m leaving for Florida for a week. Everything I see, the weather forecast is, it’s gonna be beautiful,” Komjathy said.
He’s psyched — assuming, of course, his flight doesn’t get canceled.