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300,000 Without Power As Nor'easter Dumps Heavy, Wet Snow Across New Jersey

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A state of emergency was in effect Wednesday in New Jersey, where Governor Phil Murphy said 300,000 residents were left without power after another nor'easter dumped up to a foot or more of snow across the state.

"Folks are largely doing what we need them to do, which is to stay off the roads, stay inside, stay safe. That's going to help us combat this," Gov. Phil Murphy told CBS2's Meg Baker earlier in the day. "There's snow up and down the state actually. There's a significant amount of snow in the south. We're up in the part of the state that's probably going to get clobbered the worse -- Morris, Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex counties are going to get hit pretty hard.

"The worst is yet to come. We worry about outages," he added. "We're already digging out of a very frustrating hole from the weekend storm, where we still have a lot of homes that are out."

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JCP&L said it had more than 4,000 people working on restoration.

"This storm has the potential to put down an additional 10 to 14 inches of heavy, wet snow. We always watch the winds, as well," JCP&L spokesperson Ron Morano said. "Your biggest concern is gusting winds, winds sustained over 40 miles an hour, because crews can't go up in a bucket. Right now, we can work."

New Jersey State Police said they responded to more than 500 crashes since midnight.

"If you don't have to go out, stay home. If you have to drive, please #SlowYourRoll," the department tweeted.

Some residents heeded the warning.

"I commute into Manhattan so figuring that around noon, the conditions are supposed to worsen, so figured I would work from home and avoid the commute coming back," said resident Jeff Palma.

Others wished they had.

"It was awful. Don't go out there, it's really slippery. I have all-wheel drive and I was still sliding all over the place," one man told Baker.

WATCH: CBS2's Chris Wragge hit the road in Mobile 2 to talk to New Jersey residents about the nor'easter. 

Cars of all shapes and sizes were no match for the heavy, wet snow piled up on Route 280 near East Orange, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.

Many headed westbound slowed to a crawl, barely getting any traction to continue uphill. Others headed in the wrong direction, hoping to backtrack to an exit.

In the eastbound lanes, plows working to clear the roadways were trapped in the backed up traffic.

Late Wednesday night, officials said hundreds of drivers were still stranded in the mess. New Jersey State Police and the Essex County Sheriff's Department were on the scene to help. 

On Route 46 in Parsippany, westbound lanes were closed – forcing drivers to turn around.

"Very slow. You're kind of, not a victim, but you're at the service of whoever else is driving in front of you. So if you get into a long line and somebody is having trouble, you're stuck," Denville resident Joe Roebuck said.

A.J. Williams ventured out by foot to pick up dinner for his pregnant fiancé.

"It wasn't that bad, but I almost slipped like maybe twice. I took the wrong route, I didn't go this way the first time, had to climb over some mountains," he said. "It's cold."

Earlier in South Brunswick, Route 27 was shut down as drivers used their cars to push other vehicles uphill.

Police there tweeted that damage from Wednesday's storm "may be worse than hurricane Sandy." 4,000 people were without power, 79 locations had wires down, and over 100 trees were felled making "all major roads impassable."

Schools were scheduled to be closed for a second straight day Thursday, according to police.

The wet snow brought other obstacles, as well. Tree branches started to snap, including one that landed on CBS2's Mobile 2 vehicle in Summit.

"Right on your car – makes me worry a little. I could hear them hitting the roof and stuff, too," said one woman out shoveling with her son.

In Bergen County, travel was slow and treacherous. One couple was kicking themselves for venturing out in Paramus. 

"Up 17, very dangerous. A lot of swaying, there was cars spinning out," they said. "We're lucky in his car, but we were stupid for coming out."

Other drivers encountered a standstill on Route 24 in Madison, while some roads in Ridgewood were impassable due to downed wires.

Authorities shut down Northern Parkway where traffic lights went out just a few feet from where crews had cleaned up a tree that took out a fence.

"It's scary, because you don't know what's next, what's the next tree to come down after watching these pines come down," Ashley Jameson said. "It's heavy, feels like five or six pounds of dead weight." 

The snow fell at a fast and furious pace, making it hard for the plows to keep up.

"It's been rough," plow driver Ahmad Ghiasi said. "The best thing to do in this kind of weather is to stay home and be off the roads. But there's still people out there with two-wheel drive cars getting stuck and causing more problems for us plow guys and the repairmen for the power lines."

Murphy said residents who want updates on the storm should visit the state Office of Emergency Management website.

All state offices will have a two-hour delayed opening on Thursday, by declaration of the governor.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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