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Murphy on storm response: ‘The forecasts were lousy’

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Gov. Phil Murphy holds a press conference on Thursday’s snowstorm at the Statewide Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge.
Gov. Phil Murphy holds a press conference on Thursday’s snowstorm at the Statewide Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge. - ()

The Murphy administration is blaming the state’s underprepared response to last night’s snowstorm, which dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in some parts of the state, on inadequate weather forecasts.

Gov. Phil Murphy, at a Friday morning press conference at the State Traffic Management Center in Woodbridge, admitted his administration's response was not enough, calling last night’s weather “a perfect storm” and saying he “understood commuter’s and resident’s frustration.”

“It wasn’t forecasted to be the storm it was,” Murphy said, flanked by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan and Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “The forecasts were lousy.”

Murphy said weather conditions unexpectedly worsened at noon, by which time it was too late to declare a state of emergency.

State police said they responded to nearly 1,000 crashes and helped nearly 1,900 drivers during the snowstorm.

Many tow trucks, snowplows and road-salting equipment were sitting in the same snarled traffic as everyone else, according to Gutierrez-Scaccetti, making it virtually impossible for them to travel.

The governor said that a review of last night’s response is underway, including asking the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey why they abruptly shut down their Manhattan bus terminal.

Earlier Thursday, Assemblyman Tony Bucco, R-25th District, said he wants the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee to hold hearings on the state DOT’s “poor response” to last night’s storm.

“As conditions worsened, the department’s presence was absent,” Bucco wrote in a letter to Assembly Transportation Chair Daniel Benson, D-14th District.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-26th District, also placed the blame on the Murphy administration.

“ … don’t blame it on the meteorologists, or the poor guy driving the salt or plow truck,” he said in a written statement. “You own this one.”

Even some members of Murphy’s own party, such as Sen. Joseph Cryan, D-20th District, called the storm response “sub-par” and said that the governor’s office needs to review its emergency response procedures for inclement weather.

Many commuters pinned blame on Murphy for the state of New Jersey’s roads last night and criticized his social media response to the storm.

In one Twitter video, Murphy urged motorists to stay off the road and stay indoors.

As the storm took place many local officials were converged at the New Jersey League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City, away from their townships, which also drew disapproval from frustrated commuters and residents.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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