WEST ESSEX, NJ - Late Saturday night, the National Weather Service issued a Freezing Rain Advisory for northeast New Jersey warning of hazardous travel conditions through Sunday morning. The Advisory was expected to be in effect from 3am until 8am Sunday morning, but it was gradually extended until 1pm Sunday afternoon.
"Light freezing rain and drizzle will make
Reports began to come into West Essex Now by early morning saying the roads were extremely hazardous.
"Black ice everywhere from Bloomfield to West Caldwell.
By 8:30am, about 10 vehicles were already disabled along Mountain Avenue and there were numerous accidents occurring throughout the area. Area police and surrounding towns used their emergency alert systems within the next ten minutes to warn their residents to remain at home and they would continue to do so throughout the morning.
Over the next hour, Eagle Rock Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue, Passaic Avenue, Eisenhower Parkway and Route 280 were all closed completely or intermittently as accidents arose. Vehicles were reported to have collided into each other, hit poles, gone onto lawns and spun around onto oncoming traffic. There were countless injuries and multiple airbags deployed; in general, drivers were proving it was unsafe for any but emergency vehicles to be out on the road.
Pedestrians were equally affected; falls with injuries from icy stairs, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways were reported all over the area.
So many accidents happened in such a short period of time that First Responders resorted to the rare practice of "triaging" - which usually happens during extreme emergencies when large amounts of wounded or ill patients are assigned degrees of urgency. By 9am, Roseland and West Essex First Aid EMTs were responding to emergencies all over the area, while at the same time their emergency vehicles were attempting to circumvent the dangerous roads to transport patients to local hospitals and trauma centers in Newark. All available EMTs were asked to report for duty and mutual aid from Wayne was also requested.
This is only a sampling of accidents which occurred throughout the region:
Reports of abandoned cars left where they had crashed came in from all over. By 11:30am, there were so many accidents and disabled vehicles along Eagle Rock Avenue that residents were opening their homes to shelter people as they waited for assistance.
Local religious organizations including St. Peter's Church in Essex Fells, LifeSource Church in West Caldwell and Our Lady of the Lake in Verona canceled morning prayer services or afternoon gatherings.
The ice storm affected everyone in the Metropolitan Area. Governor Chris Christie announced that speed restrictions of 35-45mph were in effect on the NJ Turnpike by 9:15am. NJ Transit and DeCamp buses were all cancelled until the afternoon due to the icy road conditions. At 1:30pm, the mutual aid agreement between New York City and NJ was activated and those EMT teams, which were available, waited at the Hudson Tunnel to assist with the City's backlog of 911 calls.
At 1pm, the Freezing Rain Advisory was cancelled while NOAA then issued a Flood Warning which was in effect until 6pm Sunday afternoon. Briefly, thundershowers came into the area adding to the day's weather challenges.
All the roads in the area were open by 1:45pm. The roads remain wet and temperatures will continue below freezing tonight. At 5:50pm, there was an accident, with injuries, on Grandview Avenue, in North Caldwell.