Governor Phil Murphy said November winter storm caught state by surprise, despite ample warning from multiple reliable weather forecasters.
TRENTON-Phil Murphy was caught with his pants down on Thursday as millions of New Jersey commuters were stuck in traffic during a winter storm. State highways and roads remained unplowed, and Governor Phil Murphy offered up an excuse to the public on Twitter.
Say what you want about former Governor Chris Christie’s politics, one thing was certain, his storm preparedness was usually second to none, and his briefings were usually accompanied by to the point warnings, “Stay the hell off the roads.” Usually those warnings came hours before an impending storm, not three hours into a wintry mix of ice and snow.
Enter Phil Murphy.
“Hey, Governor Phil Murphy coming at’chya,” he casually welcomed commuters stuck in the snow. “This storm is a lot worse than any of the forecasts that we were in touch with…it’s going to last longer…the roads are really treacherous.”
By the time Murphy made his announcement, the majority of New Jersey commuters already knew all of this.
With millions of stranded drivers, Murphy offered an absurd piece of advice.
“If you can, please stay in,” he said. “This is a good moment to get off the roads. Stay in your homes.”
Murphy said his administration wasn’t made aware of the increased snowfall potential because the forecasts they were in touch with did not accurately predict the level of intensity and lower than expected temperatures that accompanied Thursday’s November snowfall.
Hours before the storm fell, New Jersey’s most well known weatherman did in fact sound the warning call on the storm, now being dubbed by the Weather Channel as “Winter Storm Avery”.
Dan Zarrow, the meteorologist for NJ 101.5 gave Murphy, state and local agencies ample warning, but it’s a well known fact, Phil Murphy is no fan of the station.
“The forecast is trending slightly colder for this afternoon and evening,” Zarrow posted on the station’s weather blog hours before the first snowflake fell. “So the snow and wintry mix may very well last longer than originally expected. That bumps up the expected snowfall accumulation by an inch or two. Once the upper limit of the NWS forecast hits the 7″ threshold… BAM, it’s Warning time.”
The National Weather Service, one of the most definitive weather sources in the country even escalated their warning ahead of the storm, but Murphy’s administration missed that too.
So what did Murphy miss, other than looking outside his window?
Hours before the storm, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management’s Ready NJ system published their own forecast earlier in the morning, which is apparently the information Murphy went on, not checking for updated forecasts throughout the day.
“We will see winter weather in most counties today, w/ rainfall & gusty winds. A wintry mix of snow, sleet, & rain will change to rain by Friday. Use caution on the roads,” the office published late Thursday afternoon.
Even as snow began to fall in Southern New Jersey, which was not forecasted either, Murphy continued missing all of the signals.
Hours into the storm, commuters, some stuck in the same spot for hours called it quits. Many lodged themselves in local hotels, some just pulled into a parking lot and slept a few hours off until the plows came…which commuters said were few and far between.
But did Murphy really misread the forecast? He gave the ok at 2:30pm for all non-essential state workers to leave work.
While the shore area wasn’t as negatively impacted as northern areas of the state, residents working in North Jersey and New York paid a hefty price on the commute home.
Even former New Jersey Governor Christie commented on the incompetence of the Murphy administration’s handling of the first snowfall of the 2018-19 winter season.
Miss me yet?
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) November 16, 2018
Hundreds of New Jersey residents blasted Murphy on his state run Facebook page.
“Dear governor, this was the worst clean up job ever. I’ve never seen so much chaos on NJ roads. In the future, please clean the snow or close the state.”
“Worse then expected
“Now that you won the big time governor’s seat, you should probably learn about snow and snow plowing and salt spreading. We do that in NJ to keep the roads clear. Look into it. My kid’s school foresaw the storm. How come you and your DOT commissioner didn’t?”
“Shameful. No excuse. 4.5 hours to go 10 miles in Bergen County. You can’t blame this on commuters. You need to take courses in emergency management. God help us in this state.”
“Go figure. The people who voted for you don’t work anyway. They’re probably home toasty and warm.”
“You’re an absolute disgrace to our state. I want a new governor.”
“Get off Facebook and Twitter and start producing actionable results.”