With the first big winter storm of the year about to drop half a foot of snow or more in some areas of New England, everyone is getting ready.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker told non-emergency state employees to stay home Friday and asked residents to stay off the roads and use public transportation when possible. The City of Boston canceled school, along with a growing number of other districts.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is planning to deploy around 2,500 plows, front-end loaders and other equipment for this storm, Baker said, and they have up to 3,900 available.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
Massachusetts' Hour-by-Hour Snowstorm Forecast
Public Works Departments Prepare
Brockton has about 140 plow trucks -- both city-owned and contractors -- ready to hit the roads starting Thursday night.
“We plan on going out and pre-treating roads early, probably around 8 o'clock tonight, and we’ll keep an eye on the storm and once we hit 1 or 2 inches we’ll make a decision on plowing," said Patrick Hill, Brockton's DPW commissioner.
Plow driver Ed Johnson said some of his workers have COVID-19, but the job will get done.
“It’s going to be a little struggle, couple machines may be sitting with no one in the seats, but we’ll get it done," Johnson said.
Some public works departments are dealing with potential staffing shortages due to COVID call-outs.
In Foxboro, DPW Director Chris Gallagher said Wednesday that about seven workers have been out over the past week due to COVID. But Gallagher said most of those workers will be out of quarantine on Friday.
In addition to dozens of their own trucks, Foxboro also has a steady fleet of about 20 contractors ready to go.
“Most of our routes are covered by more than one truck. Some with two, three, some have four on them so we’ll just pull trucks from different routes and fill the voids,” said Gallagher.
Brutus Cantoreggi is the public works director in Franklin and is also juggling plow drivers. They’re dealing with a 30% shortage in workers due to the pandemic, down about 11 people.
He says it’s also been tough finding drivers with a CDL license.
“Everyone is looking for drivers, we were looking for drivers before even COVID came along…It means it’s going to be tough, a lot more difficult to get it done,” Cantoreggi said.
More on the Snow Headed to Mass.
This is expected to be a quick-moving storm, which means fewer shifts of crews, and that will help.
“If we’re not doing our jobs that means the police can’t get somewhere, the fire can’t get somewhere the ambulance can’t get there, it's difficult,” Cantoreggi said.
The towns are asking for people to remain patient and to stay off the roads so crews can get the job done.
No crew shortages are expected.
COVID-19 Testing Site Closures
The state is warning that COVID-19 testing sites may shut down due to the weather, and some have already announced closures. If you need to test or have an appointment scheduled, you are warned to contact your testing site ahead, or try to get an at-home rapid test.
Be prepared for your day and week ahead. Sign up for our weather newsletter.
Travel by Car or by Train
The most significant snowfall is expected between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. The state is asking drivers to keep the roads clear when possible, and asking residents to take public transit if possible.
MBTA officials warned Thursday that the system may be affected by the storm starting overnight Thursday, though no changes have been announced. Crews will be at commuter rail stations to clear snow and apply salt and sand.