With a storm expected to drop 6 to 10 inches of snow across the area tomorrow, New Jersey officials have already started preparing thousands of miles of roads with a brine solution.
"It's our first line of defense," said Tim Greeley, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. "We will follow the brine with liquid calcium and road salt about two to three hours before the snowfall. We'll hit full force."
South Jersey is expected to be hardest hit and crews have been treating I-295, and state routes 42, 55, 49, 47 and 322 since yesterday. At the same time, officials are watching the storm's progress.
"We have 37 remote weather stations across the state and can determine the temperature of the roadways," Greeley said. "We'll find out when we're close to the freezing point."
Crews will be reporting to the maintenance yards to begin putting down the liquid calcium and road salt at about 1 a.m. - two hours before the snowstorm is expected to hit.
"When we ramp up, we will hit every highway we cover - all the state roads," said Greeley.
Counties and municipalities are responsible for their own roadways.
"We're gearing up for plowing and snow removal while we keep an eye on the weather," said Camden County spokeswoman Joyce Gabriel.
Some weekend events were already being affected by the snow, including the annual Christmas Party at the Camden Rescue Mission, which was planning to provide toys to 6,000 children tomorrow.
The Rev. Al Stewart, mission pastor, had almost been forced to postpone the party because of the lack of toys but had decided to hold it after getting a flood of donations. Now, the snow has forced him to postpone the event until 9 a.m. Christmas Eve.
State crews cover 15,829 lane miles and have with 116,000 tons of salt available. About 31,000 tons of it is for South Jersey. The state also has 529,000 gallons of liquid calcium with 151,000 gallons available for the southern part of the state.
Tonight, 700 state workers - 215 of them in the south - will report to 58 maintenance yards and 70 salt storage facilities across the state. They'll use 620 pieces of equipment, including plows and loaders. About 200 of those are in South Jersey.
At least 1,400 contractors can also be called in to supplement the snow removal effort.
Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police and director of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, today encouraged residents to prepare their homes and vehicles for the storm.
"By proactively preparing for winter weather before the first snow flakes fall, you are helping to protect yourself and your family from the winter elements that we sometimes encounter in our great state," Fuentes said.
He suggested that cars should be equipped with road maps, a cell phone, shovel, windshield scraper, a towrope, booster cables, and a brightly colored cloth to use as a distress signal. A bag of sand or non-clumping cat litter to spread under tires if stuck in snow is also recommended.