New Jersey tries to get back to normal after threat of 'crippling' snowstorm fizzles



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After hundreds of flights were canceled due to the snowstorm, passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were left stranded overnight. Air travel is expected to slowly resume. (Jan. 27)

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TRENTON, New Jersey — A snowstorm that had been billed as "crippling and potentially historic" instead left only a few inches of snow in New Jersey on Tuesday, yet still paralyzed the state because of travel restrictions and shut down train service.

Here's a breakdown of what happened and how the state worked to get back to normal:


WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SNOW?

As of Monday night, up to 2 feet of snow was forecast for parts of northern New Jersey.

Instead, snow totals ranged from as little as half an inch in Bellmawr, Camden County, to 10 inches in Brick, Ocean County, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters were planning to re-evaluate their storm models after the state received more of a glancing blow as the storm carried its heaviest snow and strongest winds north of the region.

"The system tracked a little farther east, so it's something that we're going to evaluate after the fact and see what we can do better next time," said Jim Bunker, the observing program leader at the National Weather Service forecasting office in Mount Holly.

Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service forecaster in Mount Holly, apologized on Twitter for the bad forecast.

"You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn't. Once again, I'm sorry," he tweeted.

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GETTING AROUND:

—TRAINS: New Jersey Transit trains began rolling again Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m.; each line was starting after required federal inspections. Buses also began running again. PATH trains and Port Authority bus service resumed at 9:30 a.m., and the Port Authority's Hudson River bridges and tunnels reopened. Both transit systems promised a return to normal schedules Wednesday.

—PLANES: Air travel was slowly resuming at Newark Liberty International Airport and the New York metropolitan area's two other major airports after thousands of flights were canceled ahead of the storm. A Federal Aviation Administration website that tracks airport delays reported that arrival and departure delays for the flights that were operating averaged about 15 minutes early Tuesday evening.

—DRIVING: Gov. Chris Christie lifted the ban on travel statewide at 7:30 a.m. The restrictions were put in place on Monday night to aid plowing and to reflect a ban that was in effect in neighboring New York.


CHRISTIE DEFENDS RESPONSE:

Christie declared a state of emergency on Monday, closing roads at 11 p.m. and shutting down state office buildings on Tuesday.

He defended the decision and said it was based on the forecast.

"I was being told as late as 9 o'clock last night that we were looking at 20-inch accumulations in most of New Jersey," Christie said on WABC-TV. "If, in fact, that is what would have happened, having these types of things in effect were absolutely the right decision to make. And, so listen, you all were on TV practically 24 hours talking about this based on what you were being told and we were acting based on what we were being told."


NO SNOW, BUT PLENTY OF IMPACT:

While the storm left little more than a dozen power outages statewide, hundreds of schools were closed Tuesday and businesses were forced to deal with travel restrictions that kept customers away.

The storm slowed business at Atlantic City's casinos as gamblers heeded warnings to stay off the roads. The seaside gambling resort has seen four of its 12 casinos close last year, and three others are in bankruptcy, so any lost business is significant.

"The threat of any storm is detrimental, and it was definitely a slow night," said Joe Lupo, the casino's senior vice president. "The late threat did allow many hotel guests to get here early, so our occupancy wasn't nearly as affected as day-trip business. Overall, we can't complain. We realize we will get bad weather this time of winter and would prefer that it be mid-week."


Associated Press writers Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield and Wayne Parry in Atlantic City contributed to this report.

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