Just as Union County residents were starting to get used to the unseasonably mild temperatures this January, Mother Nature has decided to remind everyone that it really is winter.
A winter storm that moved in overnight Friday blanketed New Jersey with at least three inches of snow by 10 a.m., and some sleet and freezing rain falling on top of that in a few areas of the county. The Winter Weather Advisory issued by the National Weather Service for Union County is in effect until 4 p.m. Saturday. the NWS is predicting that snow accumulations could total up to five inches in the county.
This is the first snowfall of 2012 and also marks the only significant storm since the freak late that covered the region with heavy, wet snow. The storm caused tree limbs and power lines to fall and led Gov. Chris Christie to declare a state of emergency. In the weeks that followed, President Barack Obama also issued a for the areas that sustained heavy damage due to that storm.
The snow and sleet that fell during the early morning hours caused hazardous road conditions throughout parts of the state. Accidents were reported along the Garden State Parkway in areas such as Cranford, where at least two lanes were blocked due to crashes and vehicles driving off the slick roadway.
New Jersey State Police reports that the parkway is slippery and accidents are happening. Police urge residents to stay off the roadways if they can.
"The road is clear but it's slippery, it's wet," Sgt. Walsh of the NJ State Police said Saturday morning. "The roads are wet and you got to be careful."
The mild winter has given local public works crews plenty of time to prepare for the first snowstorm of the season. Erik Hastrup, the assistant superintendent of for Cranford, said Friday that the DPW had "20 trucks ready to go" in the event of a significant accumulation of snow. Hastrup said the Cranford DPW has an adequate supply of salt to melt the ice on the roadways. Trucks began heading out to spread salt earlier this morning. Hastrup also stressed the importance of removing cars from the streets so that plows and salt trucks could work to clear the roads.