BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Bernards Township officials have said they are preparing for a Saturday-into-Sunday wild weather ride that has forecasters predicting a 100 percent chance of -- they're not sure what, but alternating freezing rain, sleet, snow, and a mix of snow and sleet, are some of the unpleasant weather conditions that lie ahead starting on Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The township Department of Public Works and Somerset County were preparing on Friday for the coming weather on Saturday and Sunday, said Pat Monaco, Bernards Township Administrator. Nevertheless, uncertainty remains about what the storm will actually bring, he noted.
Even so, "the DPW will be mobilizing late Saturday afternoon and dealing with whatever Mother Nature decides to bring down," Monaco said. "This will be a prolonged event with snow, ice, sleet and rain on very cold surfaces which will build up."
Monaco noted that while road crews will be out and about dealing with all of the changing conditions _ none of them good _ "There will be periods during the storm that will be very hazardous and residents should be cognizant of those hazards."
Bernards Police Chief Mike Shimsky said the police department and Office of Emergency Management are monitoring weather situation. "We have adequate staffing and all of our equipment is ready for the storms," he said. The chief added police "would like to remind citizens to exercise extreme caution when traveling the roadway this weekend."
As of Friday night, the National Weather Service was predicting an 80 percent chance of snow later on Saturday afternoon, but possibly only an inch accumulation. However, overnight, a snow and sleet accumulation was expected to add up to an mix that might plaster the town with an icy mix possibly 3 to 7 inches deep. Sunday morning is supposed to begin with freezing rain, then possibly snow with biting gusts of wind. The winds are supposed to continue overnight, as the temperature could drop to 4 degrees before reaching a predicted high of 13 degrees on Monday, the Martin Luther King holiday.
Shimsky said residents can refer to the Bernards Township website at www.Bernards.org for updates, as well as obtaining information from JCP&L and the power company's storm preparedness efforts.
Some national media outlets were reporting on Friday evening that while the National Weather Service was open and working hard, predictions might be a little less accurate as forecasters and managers were overworked and not being paid during the federal shutdown.