Darius Cotoi via Unsplash

By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
hochman@montclairlocal.news

With a heavy winter storm on the way, Montclair authorities are urging caution and telling drivers to get off the road.

The Township Sunday declared a state of emergency for the storm, prohibiting non-essential travel and on-street parking until 12 hours after snowfall has stopped. It warned township police would ticket and tow vehicles on streets during that period. Residents may park their vehicles free of charge in municipal lots and decks from 5 p.m. Sunday until streets are clear of snow, the township said.

The non-essential travel ban does not include municipal government employees traveling in the course of their work.




Schools

Montclair Public Schools announced mid-day Sunday all schools and offices will be on an “abbreviated day” or “Curriculum Thursday” schedule Monday. No teacher office hours will be held in the afternoon. All buildings will be closed and staff members who report to buildings would work remotely until the end of the abbreviated schedule. Central office staff will work remotely until 2 p.m. Meals will be distributed on Tuesday and Thursday.

No students were expected to be in the buildings, even before the storm — the district and its teachers union have not yet come to an agreement to return students to school buildings for hybrid instruction.

Montclair Kimberley Academy said all classes and all after-school activities are cancelled Monday. Montclair Immaculate Conception High School will be closed as well, without a virtual day.

Vaccinations

Also because of the storm, appointments at Essex County’s novel coronavirus vaccination sites originally scheduled for Monday, Feb. 1 will instead be on Sunday, Jan. 31.

Weather forecast

The National Weather service has issued a winter storm warning — as of Sunday late morning, the warning is expected to be in effect from 7 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Snow accumulations could be as much as 18 inches, with wind gusts at times in excess of 35 mph.

“If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” the township said in its notice.

The NWS Sunday predicted a 30 percent chance of snow, mainly after 5 p.m. The high would be near 27 degrees, and wind chill values between 15 and 2 degrees. Snow was expected to continue after 7 p.m., with a low around 24 degrees, and wind chill values as low as 10 degrees.

On Monday, the NWS said, the snow could be heavy. Highs would be near 28 degrees, with wind chill values again as low as 10. Wind chills could get up to 37 mph. As much as 11 inches of snow could land in the Montclair area.

Monday night, snow was expected to continue, with lows around 27 degrees and wind chills between 15 and 20 degrees. Another 3 to 7 inches of snow are possible.

Tuesday, the snow is likely to continue until about 4 p.m., the NWS said. After that, rain and snow are likely.

NWS predictions are updated frequently. See here for the latest from the service.

New Jersey maintains a list of warming stations per county here. As of Sunday, warming stations were listed in the Essex County communities of Irvington and Newark.

Travel

NJ Transit suspended all bus and train service except for its Atlantic City Rail Line for the full service day Monday.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said on Facebook Sunday 50 salt trucks and 250 plows would clear county roads. A county-wide Code Blue declaration was to remain into effect through Wednesday.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation had issued a commercial travel restriction for several highways — including Routes 80, 280 and 287 — beginning at noon Sunday. The New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway were not affected.

New Jersey State Police issued the following warnings and advice:

• Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on slick or snow-covered surfaces
• Increase the following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, which will help prevent rear-end crashes on slick roads
• Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave for your trip
• Pack bottled water, blankets, and dry food goods in the event you get stranded
• Leave a friend or family member a travel itinerary so that they can alert police should you get stranded and/or lose cell service
• Make sure your gas tank is full before you leave in case you get stuck in traffic
• Top off your windshield washer fluid to clear salt from your windshield
• Pack a few bags of sand or cat litter, which can create traction for vehicles stuck on slippery road grades
If your vehicle becomes disabled during the storm, follow these safety rules:
• Call 9-1-1
• Stay inside your car. You are safer inside your car than outside
• Turn on your hazard lights
• To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows fully up. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.