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WESTAMPTON - South Jersey dodged a blizzard Tuesday, but got hit by a slush ball.
A storm once expected to drop more than a foot of snow on the region instead delivered a nasty mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow.
The National Weather Service lifted a winter storm warning after reporting snowfall totals on Tuesday afternoon of about 4 to 6 inches in the tri-county area. Accumulation was highest in northern Burlington County.
Strong winds and icy conditions caused trees and branches to fall, blocking roads and cutting power for more than 15,000 homes and businesses in the tri-county area.
At 8 p.m., PSE&G reported 12,500 customers without electricity in the tri-county area, up from about 8,000 two hours earlier. It reported about 6,900 outages in Gloucester County, 4,700 in Camden County and 875 in Burlington County.
PSE&G said towns with the most outages were Moorestown, Willingboro, West Deptford and Camden, where the storm knocked out a substation.
Atlantic City Electric reported about 2,400 outages in Gloucester County at 8 p.m., down from 4,000 two hours earlier.
In Mount Laurel, a falling tree caused a transformer fire on Hainesport Road around 1:45 p.m., closing the street between Academy and Horseshoe drives, police said.
And in Haddonfield, a tree-service crew around 2 p.m. maneuvered a worker in a cherry picker into the branches of a partially uprooted tree on Pardee Lane. The tree had fallen against utility wires, causing a blackout on the street.
"My neighbor and I heard a transformer pop over there," said Phil Shapiro, a resident of nearby Grove Street. "But we have power here. The only damage I had was one of my small trees coming down."
Schools and government offices were closed Tuesday, and many businesses did not open.
Relatively few vehicles ventured onto the roads, and authorities urged residents not to drive.
"Even though the storm has cleared out of our area, the roads remain treacherous due to the frozen surfaces," said Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young.
He noted the county's dispatch center had received 486 fire calls by 3 p.m., with many of them related to downed trees and wires.
"To put this in perspective, the county averages about 180 fire calls in a normal 24-hour period," said Young.
"None have been major incidents," he added of the calls.
The Weather Service cautioned motorists to be careful Wednesday, warning of hazardous conditions from "scattered snow showers and localized snow squalls."
Shapiro, the Haddonfield resident, noted the region's good fortune in avoiding the worst of a storm that pummeled other areas.
"We've been very fortunate this year," he said, chipping at the icy shell that encased his vehicle.
Officials initially had feared a blizzard could dump 10 to 16 inches of snow on South Jersey.
The storm's local impact was less than expected because the dividing line between snow and other forms of precipitation moved to the west of this area, according to the weather service in Westampton.
NJ Transit, which cut back operations in advance of the storm, said bus service would resume Wednesday in South Jersey and other areas below Interstate 195.
The River Line light-rail line and the Atlantic City rail line will operate on normal weekday schedules.
The transit agency said bus patrons may encounter delays in northern parts of the state that were hit harder by the storm.
Gov. Chris Christie at 6 p.m. Tuesday lifted a state of emergency he had declared one day earlier. State offices are to maintain their regular hours on Wednesday, the governor's office said.