NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather advisory for Middlesex County until 10pm after a winter storm struck the area this morning.

“A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow… sleet… or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties,” reads the advisory.  “Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities…. And use caution while driving.”

According to a statement from Governor Chris Christie’s office, “Winter Storm Cato” is expected to impede transportation and travel throughout New Jersey.

“Today’s storm is expected to produce travel hazards and potentially cause power outages throughout the state,” said Christie.

The city has not issued any statements or emergency alerts about the storm yet.

If and when the city does declare a “snow emergency,” parking will be off limits on the city’s major roadways and free parking will be offerred for residents in selected garages in downtown.

“Rutgers University-New Brunswick is open and operating,” according to its campus status page.  Conveniently, like many public institutions, most of the school is closed for Thanksgiving break over the next four days.

Commuters are asked to use extreme caution while traveling across the state.  In general, public safety officials request people not drive during winter storms if they can avoid it.

“With higher than normal traffic volume due to the Thanksgiving holiday, I strongly encourage all New Jerseyans to drive carefully so that they and their families arrive safely at their destinations,” said Christie.

New Brunswick’s sole provider of electricity provided some information about how to deal with power outages that may occur.

All outages are reported on the utility’s online outage map, updated every 15 minutes.

“While snow usually isn’t an issue for utilities, the possibility of a wet snow can increase the likelihood of downed tree limbs and wires, which causes power outages,” reads the PSE&G press release, which the city reproduced on its website.  “Vehicles striking utility poles can also cause wires to come down.”

“In anticipation of the storm, PSE&G is ensuring that all available personnel are ready to respond beginning tomorrow morning. The utility is also arranging for additional tree crews to assist PSE&G’s own skilled workforce, and ensuring that additional supplies including poles and transformers are on hand.”

PSE&G urges its customers to be cautious if they see downed power lines: “Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything that it might be in contact with.”

To report downed wires or power outages, customers should call PSE&G’s Customer Service line at 1-800-436-PSEG.

PSE&G offered the following tips to prepare for a storm:

  • Charge your cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
  • Fill up your car’s fuel tank.
  • Ensure you have a battery-powered radio and a supply of fresh batteries.
  • Check your supply of flashlights, blankets, nonperishable food and bottled water for everyone in your family.
  • Put your refrigerator and freezer at the coldest setting. Keep a blanket handy to throw over these appliances for added insulation. If electricity is interrupted, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Compile a list of emergency phone numbers

Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.