HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Snow and sleet made for some dangerous driving conditions across the tri-state area Monday, including in New Jersey.
It started as rain then switched to thick snowflakes for a while in Paramus, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports. Students at Paramus Public Schools had an early dismissal, to the excitement of many students.
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The blacktop remained visible on the main roads, like Route 17, but the side roads, as always, seem to accumulate the most with fewer cars driving on them.
A slushy mix of snow and rain started coming down around noon in Hackensack, where people were running in and out of hardware stores to finish getting prepared.
With hoods up and carts packed, Peter Kelly was among the people taking no chances Monday, making sure to stock up after learning his lesson on Sunday.
“I have to pick up at least five bags of salt and one spreader and two buckets,” he said. “I have five houses I have to care of, plus with ice last night, I have to get more salt. It caught me off guard.”
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Others filled up the fridge as they brace for one of the first snowstorms of the season.
“Because of Thanksgiving, the fridge that was full is now empty, just basic stuff,” said Jacequeline Massey of Bergen. “I don’t want to have to come back out later if there’s a storm. It’s not safe.”
Still, others braved the weather to get Christmas shopping done.
“This is Christmas shopping to get ahead of the game after everybody has gone over the weekend,” said River Edge resident Carol Winkler.
“I love the snow, so I’m excited about it. Not quite so much driving, but,” Rachel Kitt, of Hasbrouck Heights, said.
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Gov. Phil Murphy urged people to go home early.
“Let’s all be safe and smart, so everyone can be safe and sound,” he said.
“My work was canceled so snow day which is good,” said Nicole Cohen of Teaneck. “(I’m) going to make some soup and stay home. I have a stepson and his school is closed early.”
Road blocks like fallen trees covered the icy street right outside Rick Mano’s bar in West Milford, complicating the slow, dangerous drive.
“Pretty but a little dangerous. Gotta watch for fallen branches,” Mano told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
With snow falling so steadily, he closed up the local watering hole a few hours early, keeping safety in mind as he was about to head home.
“Drive very slow, look around, pay attention to who’s behind me, who’s in front of me,” he said.
That would likely be the plows and salt spreaders. Mobile 2 was delayed by a number of detours. Police lights illuminated areas in Passaic County where wires had fallen.
As of 11 p.m., 23,000 JCP&L customers in Sussex County were without power.
In Kinnelon, a downed wire sparked a fire that sent smoke across the road, and PSE&G was out in Essex County for wires down in Livingston.
“I saw the explosion over there in the corner, and I’m just waiting for the power to come back on,” resident Eric Sternberg said.
Sternberg’s whole street was in the dark. Neighbors around Mount Pleasant Parkway used headlights as a guide for shoveling and cleaning snow off cars.
“I’ve got my cell phone charging in my car since that’s the only electricity that I have available,” resident Marty Mininson said.
But the neighborhood kids didn’t mind, building snowmen in the dark with the help of a flashlight from dad.
“It’s scary. It’s fun,” Noah Sternberg said. “It’s a fun experience.”
The New Jersey Department of Transportation put a commercial vehicle travel restriction on parts of I-78, I-80 and I-287 for tractor trailers, motorcycles and other vehicles. The restrictions were lifted as of 8 p.m.
New Jersey State Police said as of 6 p.m., troopers had responded to 428 vehicle crashes. They had also responded to 312 motorist aids, which include incidents like flat tires and breakdowns.
As the night goes on and temperatures drop, possibly causing slush on the roads to freeze, drivers are reminded to take it slow.