TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie issued a state of emergency Tuesday as a major winter storm socked New Jersey with snow and gusty winds, turning the afternoon commute into a tangled mess and forcing hundreds of cancellations at area airports.
Christie made the announcement early Tuesday afternoon as snow continued to fall steadily across most of the state. Travel conditions were expected to worsen as the day progressed, and drivers were being urged to allow extra travel time or postpone their trips if possible.
Across the state, commuters choked the streets by early afternoon, hoping to get a jump on the traffic home, but numerous traffic backups were being reported on major and local roadways. To help ease the congestion, New Jersey Transit buses and trains were cross-honoring tickets.
By late Tuesday afternoon, state police said there had been 238 reported motor vehicle accidents and 354 incidents where motorists needed aid.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said all three of its major New York-area airports were open, as was Atlantic City International Airport. But more than 1,500 flights had been canceled at La Guardia, JFK and Newark Liberty airports by 3 p.m., the agency said. All tunnels and bridges between New Jersey and New York were open, but there was a 25 mph restriction on all Staten Island crossings.
Central and southern areas of New Jersey could see up to a foot of snow, and the strong winds were expected to create blizzard-like conditions at time. Forecasters said an arctic air blast will follow the storm and likely remain in place for several days.
The storm forced Christie to cancel his inaugural party scheduled for Tuesday night on Ellis Island.