Drove from mid-Jersey to Cresskill (north of the George Washington Bridge
) this evening in order to drop off my car at the cousin's house where I store it. We (a co-worker was in convoy to give me a lift home) made a wrong turn and ended up getting off the Garden State Parkway
north of the bridge, and discovered why New Jersey is peopled at all: it's a damn flytrap. We exit the parkway and turn left underneath it, hoping to immediately get on the southbound side. Nope; there's a huge 'NO LEFT TURN' sign, and the entrance to the parkway is an angled entrance, so we can't make the left. So we continue 1/8 mile to a T intersection, and there is an enormous 'NO U-TURN' sign. So we turn left. About 1.8 mile down, there's a driveway entrance to a corporate park - and it's got an angled entrance, and a big 'NO U-TURN' sign.
Apparently, once you get off the Garden State Parkway in North Jersey, THAT'S ALL FOR YOU.
My friend (who was leading, being a Jersey ex-Native) pulls over. I know what he's doing; he's trying to get his GPS to tell us the route to the bridge. I mutter "DON'T GET CLEVER, DICK!" but it's too late. He takes off down the road. As he does, the impressive lightning display which we'd been watching for the past 45 minutes on our way north suddenly unloads right on top of us - that driving, torrential rain which is so heavy you can't see out your windshield with the wipers full on. We slow down to perhaps 15 MPH but he continues on.
After maybe ten minutes, the rain slackens, and he gets us back on the parkway south at another exit. Hooray! We drive off towards the Bridge. Avoiding going over at the last moment, we exit to get on to the Palisades Parkway North. He lets me lead, because apparently I know where I'm going. News to me. After we get off I-95 in Fort Lee, I follow the sign which tells us to go left for the Palisades only to see an enormous panorama of construction equipment, a maze of cones, and sun-bright worklights.
Somehow we make it through that, and find the entrance to the Palisades Parkway north. Hooray! I zip up the entrance ramp and we're off.
Three minutes later, the rain starts again. The storm we had gone through before has intercepted us again. I feel like Storm Chasers or something. The rains gets heavier. And heavier. And heavier.
I notice there are an awful lot of leaves on the ground.
Like, a full carpet. I can't see asphalt, and this is a two-lane-in-our-direction highway, with a shoulder. Then branches.
Then traffic slows to a crawl in the torrent, and after a minute of creeping I realize it's because everyone is going around the 8-inch-thick tree which is down across one lane. I gulp, we drive around it, and continue on. It's not getting better. More leaves, thicker branches. One, two, no, *five* more trees. We slalom.
The ground is steaming.
Meting ice. ICE. It was 84 degrees out perhaps two minutes prior. There's a blanket of ice covering both shoulders of the road. Half an inch thick, melting fast, in billowing clouds of fog. Melting fast, meaning they just fell there.
Another two trees down across the road. We get off at our exit, and my co-worker phones me.
"Hey. 1010 WINS is reporting multiple unconfirmed reports of tornado touchdowns in north Jersey and Westchester County."
"Yeah, you think? How much do you think we missed it by?"
"I dunno, but the ice hadn't melted."
"Yep. I give it one, two minutes max."
We dropped my car off at my cousin's house, and had to leave it blocking her driveway because her lodger had parked in front of the empty garage space that's mine. I left it there; she has keys and can move it inside tomorrow. The house was dark; eithe they hadn't woken up, or had gone back to sleep. That far off the highway, there wasn't nearly as much debris on the streets; it might have just been a quick windstorm.
I'll call her tomorrow and tell her the tornado left her a BMW and she should put it in the garage quick!