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Snow blankets parts of northwestern New Jersey as storm brings wintry mix to Tri-State Area

Snow leads to slick roads in New Jersey
Snow leads to slick roads in New Jersey 01:59

NEW YORK -- The Tri-State Area saw its first significant winter snowstorm in a few years Saturday.

New York City saw the first wet flakes start to fall around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Meanwhile in New Jersey, conditions started to become dangerous on the roads Saturday evening.

Morris County officials urge drivers to stay off roads

Officials in Morris County urged drivers to stay off the roads if they don't need to be out.

Snow plows were busy cleaning roadways, sidewalks and parking lots Saturday.

The Morris County Office of Emergency Management says a weekend storm is ideal for them because there are fewer people on the roads, giving crews the opportunity to clean up even faster.

"[Crews] have max hours that they'll have to switch up and they'll bring a different crew in, but the county's well prepared. We have 15,000 tons of salt and a great road crew and a lot of emergency responders are out there," Director of the Morris County OEM Jeffrey Paul said.

The accumulation proved dangerous for vehicles not equipped for the weather, however.

"We have cars that are going off the road. We had a car go into a tree on 287. We got cars that are sliding that shouldn't be on the road based on the conditions, so it's time for people to get off the roads go home and wait this out," he said.

Snow creates slick road conditions in Morris County, New Jersey 02:49

The Dossantos family came out to do some shopping and had no idea what they were getting into.

"Over here, they didn't throw any salt yet, so the roads are really bad," Union County resident Luana Dossantos said.

Instead of getting behind the wheel, some opted to go for the stroll.

The Morristown Green resembled a winter wonderland.

"All the lights kind of reflecting off the snow. It feels like a real Christmas scene, finally," Morristown resident Sean Gallagher said.

It was perfect for a snowball fight or building a snowman.

This was the first snowfall for the Castillo family.

"When I live in Honduras, there's no snow there, so I'm really happy," Morristown resident Kandy Castillo said.

As for the roads, crews will be working through the night to keep the roads clear, but county officials are urging drivers to stay off the roads if they don't need to be out.

AAA offers safe driving tips

Officials remind drivers to use caution when traveling in winter weather.

Drivers should accelerate and decelerate slowly and allow more space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

When driving in snow, try to avoid coming to a complete stop and instead try to slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes.

If you get stuck, don't spin the tires.

Try to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle with items such as:

  • Shovel
  • Traction aid, such as sand or non-clumping cat litter
  • Ice scraper/snow brush
  • Tarp, raincoat and gloves
  • Jumper cables or portable jump starter
  • Duct tape
  • Flares or reflectors
  • Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
  • Flashlight with extra batteries

Rockaway residents prepare for snowfall

"Bring on Mother Nature. We're here. We're ready for it," said Walt Summerkorn, co-owner of Rockaway Sentry Hardware -- a fixture in Rockaway during every snowstorm.

A fresh shipment of shovels came into the shop, but they didn't last too long. Phil Grodsky, who owns a local landscaping company, picked up the heavy duty 3-foot-wide ones.

"They're really convenient. You can do a driveway in like five minutes," he said. "I live for this. Snow is my favorite thing in the world."

Watch Kristie Keleshian's report

Rockaway, New Jersey, residents prepare for snow 01:52

After last winter's light snowfall, snow blowers full of fuel have been sitting in garages for some time, and now shops like Rockaway Sentry Hardware are backlogged with repairs, untimely for those who need them this weekend.

"So what happens is that the gas sits in there for a while and the fuel gels, so clean out the carburetor ... Gotta get them cleaned out and get the machines running," Summerkorn said.

As the snow began to come down Saturday afternoon, Gov. Phil Murphy issued a warning for drivers.

"Don't go out unless you need to go out," he said.

Commercial vehicle travel restrictions are in place on several New Jersey highways until Sunday. Murphy said he spoke with utilities.

"Their biggest concern is not necessarily precipitation of snow, rain or heavy winds, but it is their ability to move their equipment around with other folks out on the road," he said.

The Shop Rite in Rockaway was packed earlier Saturday with many shoppers seeing this as good soup weather.

After their trip to the supermarket, these shoppers are heeding the governor's warnings and hunkering down.

Watch: Gov. Phil Murphy gives storm update

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy shared an update Saturday on the storm and the state's response. 

Northern parts of the Garden State can expect heavier snow to fall after sunset, with places north and west of I-287 seeing the highest totals.  

"Based on the latest reports, we are predicting a potential 6 to 10 inches of snow in the northwestern portion of the state, that would be especially Sussex and Warren counties. There's also a potential for minor coastal flooding," the governor said. "It is likely that the southern half to two-thirds of the state will only see rain... Temperatures are going to move such that this will be rain almost entirely in the south."

"Between 6 o'clock this evening and sort of in the middle of the night -- 2 a.m.[ish] -- we're predicting the most heavy precipitation," he added.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gives update on incoming winter storm 17:07

Murphy warned the rain-snow line could shift, making for more of a wintry mix in central parts of the state. He said this could worsen road conditions, particularly along the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295 corridors.

"Don't go out unless you need to go out. Stay off the roads," he said. "One of the utilities with whom I was in touch earlier today said their biggest concern is not necessarily precipitation of snow, rain or heavy winds, but it is their ability to move their equipment around with other folks out on the road. So again, please don't go out unless you have to go out."

Commercial vehicle restrictions take effect at 2 p.m. Saturday on I-78, I-80, I-280, I-287, and Route 440 from the Outer Bridge Crossing to I-287.

"Remember, charge your phones so that if you have an outage, you can call and report it," said New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Christine Sadovy. "Stay away from those downed wires. Please stay safe and, if possible, stay off the roads."

The governor said he expects the most intense part of the storm to wrap-up by daybreak Sunday. 

"We are blessed that this is a weekend event, and it's not a holiday so you don't have a lot of folks traveling to visit families," he said. "It's another reason to underscore not only do we want you to stay off the roads, it should be a lot easier for more folks to stay off the roads. Obviously, you've got essential workers, you've got folks who work weekends, we get that. But if you don't have to be out, don't go out."

Stick with our First Alert Weather team for the latest storm track and timing, as well as snow total projections and more.

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