NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — On the day Gov. Chris Christie announced a plan to monitor billions of dollars in federal aid to rebuild ravaged parts of New Jersey from Superstorm Sandy, another massive storm unleashed its fury on the state, dumping large amounts of snow as it made its way up the East Coast on Friday.
The storm forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights into and out of Newark Liberty International Airport and the suspension of train and bus service in northern New Jersey. The northeastern part of the state was expected to get a foot or more of snow as the storm intensified overnight.
Christie, known for his admonition to "Get the hell off the beach" before Tropical Storm Irene hit the state in 2011, this time urged residents in less colorful language to stay off the roads.
"Stay home, avoid unnecessary travel; if you have to drive, be smart and be careful," Christie said at an afternoon news conference. "We're prepared to make the bridges and the roadways passable, but we're urging people to stay home."
Christie said the speed limit on Interstate 95 north of Newark had been reduced to 45 mph. He said the state department of transportation had 3,000 trucks ready to deploy.
New Jersey Transit suspended rail service on its Morris & Essex, Montclair-Boonton and Midtown Direct lines and suspended bus service north of Interstate 195. The trains will be suspended through Saturday and the buses indefinitely, the agency said.
In a scene reminiscent of the days immediately after Sandy in late October, lines formed at gas stations as people rushed to fill up before the worst of the storm hit.
Rain in some areas and a wintry mix in others early in the day changed to snow by early afternoon. In Newark, where Mayor Cory Booker told residents to prepare for widespread power outages, freezing rain fell in late morning but soon changed to snow and fell steadily throughout the afternoon and evening.
Outages remained low compared to the number created by Sandy. Public Service Electric & Gas, the state's largest utility, reported 2,800 customers without power, mostly in Elizabeth, but by 11 p.m. said it had restored most of those. Jersey Central Power & Light reported a handful of outages in Monmouth County.
About 2.7 million homes and businesses lost power for up to 13 days after Sandy and a subsequent nor'easter in early November.