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Gov. Baker Urges Public to Stay Home Tuesday, Announces State Office Closures

March came in like a lion and it appears it's staying that way, as New England residents brace for the region's third nor'easter in less than two weeks.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued blizzard warnings for much of coastal Massachusetts and winter storm warnings for much of the region, even as residual power outages from the previous storm linger.

Due to the expected conditions, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that non-emergency employees of Massachusetts' executive branch would not be working Tuesday.

"We're urging the public to stay off the roads. If you need to go out, please use public transportation whenever possible. We're encouraging employers to let their folks work from home and to keep traffic volume as low as possible so our hard-working crews can clean up safely and prepare the commonwealth for Wednesday," Baker said Monday evening in a press conference.

The storm is expected to hit around midnight and last through most of the day Tuesday, with snow accumulating at a rate of 2 inches per hour during the Tuesday morning commute.

"They’re talking about a storm that literally will stretch from the coastal communities all the way west to Worcester, with very similar impact throughout, and from the Rhode Island border all the way up to New Hampshire," Gov. Baker said earlier Monday. "That’s a really big storm delivering a pretty big punch across a very wide swath of central and eastern Massachusetts, and continuing to put snow down all the way to Berkshire County. 

"You're talking about a ton of snow in a very short window, which creates all kinds of serious issues around safety," he added. "The one curveball is we're still waiting to see if it banks a little to the left or right. Depending on that, it has a big impact on how much snow we get and what the rate of the fall turns out to be."

Boston Public Schools and all branches of the Boston Public Library will be closed Tuesday, Mayor Marty Walsh said in a press conference Monday. Only the city's emergency personnel will be reporting to work.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Monday, a snow emergency and parking ban will be in effect in Boston. For details on the ban and where you can park, click here.

"Free and discounted parking is available for Boston residents in garages and lots starting at 5 o'clock tonight," Walsh said. "So on your way home, you can park in these lots."

Residents will be allowed to use space savers for parking spots until 48 hours after the end of the storm, he added.

The mayor says Boston is prepared, with 26,000 tons of salt ready for roads and 700 pieces of equipment expected to be active during the height of the storm.

While the first two storms of the month brought coastal flooding and hundreds of thousands of power outages, this winter monster is a little bit different.

"This one's main impact is going to be snow," said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Taunton, Massachusetts.

The heavy, wet snow from last week's storm brought down tree limbs and utility poles, making many roads impassable and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

In Massachusetts, residents who were left in the dark for days are hoping the next storm will not be as bad. At the height of last week's storm, more than 450,000 customers in the state were without power.

"The fact that we are having another snowstorm, you know, whatever Monday night into Tuesday, is nerve-wracking because you have food that goes bad and you fill up the refrigerator again and now we are waiting to see what happens again," Kamee Paci, a Boxford homeowner who recently regained power lost in last week's storm, said.

Eversource officials said they're closely monitoring the storm, and have crews from New England and other regions ready to respond should the storm knock out power across the area.

The snow and high winds from this storm could bring down even more power lines, causing some Massachusetts home owners to take preventative measures, hiring crews to cut down branches and dead trees to avoid a repeat performance of outages to the area. 

The race to find help to cut down the problematic tree limbs ahead of the next storm proved to be a challenge, however, since so many crews are backed up from the last storm.

Burlington resident Mike Heck says his house remains vulnerable as he tries to prepare for the next storm.

"It's just a mess," he says. "That's clean up done from last Thursday. We had a tree fall on the house at 5 o'clock in the morning. Woke us up out of bed. We just gotta hope it doesn't happen again. Too many trees for one house." 

Finding a tree trimming service will remain a struggle as many are booked until the end of the month.

Several communities, including Boston, Cambridge, Danvers, Lowell and New Bedford, have taken other proactive measures ahead of the storm, already announcing snow emergency parking bans in an effort to keep streets clear for plows to remove snow.

Officials at Boston Logan International Airport are asking travelers to check with their airlines for the latest flight information before heading to the travel hub. As of Tuesday morning, more than 830 flights had already been canceled.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials announced the Interstate 93 HOV lane between Boston and Quincy will be closed on Tuesday, and advised drivers to stay off of the roads.

"Drivers should make smart decisions on whether or not they need to be on the roadways during this storm and consider measures such as delaying travel plans until after the snow has fallen," said Jonathan Gulliver, MassDOT's highway administrator.

New Hampshire transportation issued similar warnings, noting that they responded to more than 200 crashes during last week's storm.

Massachusetts' Red Cross chapter said its volunteers have opened shelters in Plympton and Fall River and are setting up for a third shelter in Hyannis.

The risk for coastal flooding is expected to be lower than the first two nor'easters, which flooded much of Cape Cod and seaside towns. Wind gusts as high as 65 mph are forecast in those coastal areas.

The Coast Guard is urging all boaters and those who live along the coast to secure canoes, kayaks and paddle craft.

Boston and eastern Massachusetts, as well as Rhode Island, could get a foot and a half of snow, with less to the west of the city.

Maine is also bracing for a hard hit. The Portland International Jetport has had 75.5 inches of snow, far above the normal for the date of 51.8 inches with another 12 to 18 inches is on the way, said James Brown, of the National Weather Service.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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