Murphy declares a state of emergency ahead of dangerous snow, ice storm. It takes effect at midnight. –

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday declared a state of emergency, effective midnight, as parts of New Jersey could get hit with up to 8 inches of snow, along with a dangerous mixture of ice and sleet.

Murphy made the announcement during a late afternoon news conference at the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center in West Trenton.

The state will also institute a travel restriction on commercial vehicles on interstate highways, including I-76, I-78, I-80, I-195, I-280, I-287, I-295 and I-676. It does not include the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway.

The restriction includes all tractor-trailers, empty straight CDL-weighted trucks, passenger vehicles pulling trailers, recreational vehicles and motorcycles.

Col. Patrick Callahan, the head of the State Police, said state leaders were awaiting a conference call with the National Weather Service before deciding whether to shut down state offices Tuesday.

N.J. school closures, delayed openings for Tuesday from snow, ice storm (Feb. 12, 2019)

“The uncertainty of this storm has us wondering what to do with regard to tomorrow’s business day,” Callahan said.

Murphy said the state Department of Transportation had deployed “700 pieces of equipment” to prepare major roadways since Sunday evening, and had issued a winter weather condition alert.

“Regardless, it’s going to be a mess pretty much everywhere tomorrow,” Murphy said. “When you get home today, please stay home so the DOT, county and local road crews can do their jobs.”

The winter storm is expected to hit New Jersey starting Monday night with snowfall totals of 3 to 6 inches for the northern half of the state and the chance for up to 8 inches in some spots.

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Making matters worse, a coating of ice from a wintry mix could make driving treacherous Tuesday throughout much of the state, the National Weather Service said in its morning forecast update. The weather service has issued a winter storm watches and advisories starting Monday night.

A governor’s state of emergency declaration typically comes with stern warnings for people to stay off the roads, although law enforcement officers don’t have the authority to ticket drivers.

But the order does empower first responders to close roads, evacuate homes, and commandeer equipment or other resources to protect public safety.

Plus, after a high-impact storm, state officials seek financial assistance from the federal government to make repairs, and the emergency declaration is a required step in that process.

Monitor the social media accounts for the Office of Emergency Management and the N.J. State Police for updates:

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NJ Advance Media staff writers Matt Arco and Jeff Goldman contributed to this report.

S.P. Sullivan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter.

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