State of emergency preemptively declared by NJ Gov. Murphy, as storm moves in to the tri-state

WEST TRENTON, NJ — From 8:00 p.m. Tuesday until sometime on Thursday, New Jersey is under a state of emergency.

It means that residents should not go out in the weather unless they need to.  Of particular concern are cars on New Jersey roadways.  Motorists should avoid heading out, unless necessary.  The morning and evening rush on Wednesday are expected to be very wet and possibly icy.  A winter storm warning covers the entire region.

The state of emergency also means that emergency managers across New Jersey's 21 counties are on call and are anticipated to report on Wednesday to a New Jersey State Police facility dubbed the Support Room at The Rock.

It's where top leaders and troubleshooters from dozens of agencies convene in emergencies.  The facility, the fifth largest emergency operations center in the nation, is on the grounds of the State Police installation.

The West Trenton installation is also where New Jersey's new governor, Phil Murphy, met with most of the members of his cabinet, as well as with other top New Jersey emergency managers early Tuesday afternoon to plan for Wednesday's winter storm.

After the meeting, Gov. Murphy, who's been in office for seven weeks, addressed local media.

"We don't want folks to panic," the governor said, but prudence, and common sense, he said,  "are the words of the day."

Some residents that PIX11 News encountered in central Jersey on Wednesday said that they were trying to handle the situation as calmly as possible.

Osmund Desouza had just bought a large snow shovel at a South Brunswick hardware store.

"Bend your knees," he said about the shoveling method he intends to exercise in the snow that's forecast to be heavy and wet.

In the South Brunswick area, at least half a foot of snow is expected.

That volume of heavy snow has been known in the past to weigh down power lines and trees.  That combination, along with anticipated high winds, has utilities warning of power outages throughout New Jersey.

Particularly vulnerable are the state's northernmost counties.  Right now, thousands of homes are still without electricity from the nor'easter that struck the region late last week.

JCP&L utility had about 40,000 customers without power on Tuesday morning.  It was able to procure about 130 utility workers from PSE&G and other nearby utilities to supplement JCP&L's own maintenance workers to help get power lines back up and running.  The augmented crews worked around the clock on Tuesday, as well as overnight.

Still, it's not at all clear that every home that had lost power last week will have it back in time for Wednesday's storm.  For that reason, Gov. Murphy said, his administration was preparing for the worst, but hoping the situation is not too intense.

"God willing, first and foremost," the governor said Tuesday afternoon at the State Police installation, he hopes the storm doesn't badly hit, "and we get power back to those who were hurt in the storm."