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NJ declares state of emergency, Rutgers delays classes due to Tropical Storm Ida

New Brunswick and the surrounding communities were issued a number of warnings amid yesterday's tropical storm. – Photo by Hayley Slusser

Tropical Storm Ida, which was previously categorized as a hurricane, hit New Jersey in full force yesterday, causing flooding, tornadoes and substantial damage. New Jersey leaders declared a state of emergency late last night, and Rutgers announced that all campuses excluding Camden will delay today's classes until 1 p.m.

Employees who have not been deemed essential should work from home if possible and alert their supervisors, according to the University-wide email announcement. Clinical operations remain unchanged and all recreation centers will be closed.

The storm has caused 81,740 power outages throughout the state, according to a tweet from Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) at 11:16 p.m. yesterday. He said people should charge their devices and call in any outages right away.

“Tropical Storm Ida is severely impacting all areas of our state,” Murphy said. “The safety of our residents is our main priority, and we urge everyone to be informed of local weather conditions and to stay off the roads.”

In addition to flooding on the roads, NJ Transit announced widespread suspensions, detours and delays due to weather-related issues, with all but one rail line suspended as of last night.

With the declared state of emergency, the state will provide emergency support to communities in need throughout the crisis to keep loss and destruction to a minimum. The state may also request federal assistance if its resources are insufficient to address the situation.

David Robinson, distinguished professor in the Department of Geography and New Jersey State climatologist, said this storm is unfolding into one of the major storms out of the past years, perhaps even decades, across northern and central New Jersey, with flooding in the central region likely to be in the top 10 for the past century.

“(Rutgers) students have to understand that this has been an unusual event,” Robinson said. “They must be very careful on the roads, though by the time they read the article, flash flooding will have ended and river flooding will likely result in roads closed. Don’t drive around barriers and into water. And don’t venture near swollen streams and rivers. Very dangerous.”

He said the tornado that occurred in the Deptford area could possibly rank as an EF3 based on photos, with the state only having four going back to 1950 when complete records began. If it gets ranked as an EF4, it will be a first for New Jersey since the start of these records.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning to New Brunswick and the surrounding area at approximately 7:30 p.m. yesterday, which lasted until 8:15 p.m, after a tornado was spotted near Trenton.

Prior to today, Robinson said that New Jersey had already seen 11 tornadoes in 2021 so far, making it the second most active season since 1950. He said the count will rise from this number as the National Weather Service assesses the damage from today’s storm, though it does not necessarily mean there will be more storms like this in the near future.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated New Jersey only had two EF3 tornadoes going back to 1990.

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