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Under fire for snow chaos, Murphy blames 'lousy' forecasts

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WOODBRIDGE -

Gov. Phil Murphy and his administration are being criticized for what some believe to be a botched state response to the first major snowstorm of the season, which gridlocked parts of the state and snarled rush-hour traffic for hours.

Murphy took responsibility for the mess, but also laid blame on a “lousy” forecast, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the federal government.

Speaking Friday at a news conference alongside his "storm Cabinet," Murphy said the state got hit much harder than anyone had forecast. He says his administration is conducting a post-mortem on what went wrong.

“Clearly we could have done better. And we will do better,” Murphy said. “The buck stops with me. Period.”

MORE: News 12 Weather Center
MORE: News 12 Traffic Center
MORE: Your November Snow Photos

Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti apologized to commuters, many of whom were stuck in traffic for hours in Thursday.

“Clearly, I'm accountable for our performance,” she said.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said that Department of Transportation trucks started to salt the roads an hour before the storm. But she says that the DOT did not expect the snow to intensify as quickly as it did, before the salting was complete.

RELATED: Students, teachers hunker down at school after snowstorm slams state
LISTEN: Viewers voice frustration with disastrous evening commute

Early dismissals at schools and workplaces meant more cars were on the road at the peak of the storm in the early afternoon. As those cars were involved in accidents or slowdowns, it further snagged the plowing operation. State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan said the issue in some places were jackknifed tractor-trailers.

“Once that highway stops, the entire snowplow operation stops. You cannot plow, you cannot salt,” Callahan said.

But many New Jerseyans were not buying the excuses.

“This is not the first snowstorm that has ever transpired. So what made it so difficult? No one was really prepared. No one was prepared,” said Donnamarie Belmonte-Bellifemine, of Hoboken.

Republican state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who represents parts of Morris, Essex, and Passaic counties, released a statement, saying in part:  "People have the right to expect their roads to be salted and plowed…Governor, don't blame it on the meteorologists, or the poor guy driving the salt or plow truck. You own this one.”

Murphy's predecessor, Chris Christie, also took a shot at the current governor on Twitter. Christie tweeted: "It took me 5 hours and 40 minutes to travel from Piscataway to Mendham. #snowmess."

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said that the state is ready to protect consumers from any unfair or deceptive business practices as a result of the storm. Consumers should call 973-504-6200 if they experienced any problems.

The Associated press wire services contributed to this report.

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