Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday urged Massachusetts residents to stay at home during the upcoming winter storm, which is expected to deliver over a foot of snow across much of the state overnight and into Thursday.
Anyone who can stay at home during the storm should do so, Baker said at a news conference. That will allow road crews and essential workers do their work. Employers able to allow employees to work from home should do so, he added.
Those who "absolutely need" to commute to work should allot extra time to do so, use extreme caution on the roads and consider taking public transportation, he said.
"If you absolutely don't have to travel tonight or tomorrow, it would be great if you could just stay put and let the road crews do the work they need to do," Baker said.
"The last thing we all need to deal with right now, with everything else going on, is car accidents and other collisions as a result of what will be fairly treacherous driving conditions."
"Say put and let the road crews do their work," Baker said, pointing out residents are already being urged to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. under his stay-at-home advisory in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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It was a message echoed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who spoke later Wednesday in an update on the city's storm preparations, which included declaring a snow emergency.
"We haven't had a major snowstorm since March 3, 2019, over 21 months ago, so I'm urging everyone to be ready and prepared for this one," the mayor said.
The snow emergency kicked in at 6 p.m., when cars parked along emergency snow routes were set to be towed. The city was making some parking lots available at a discount. More details at Boston.gov/snow.
Walsh also touched on Boston's coronavirus response, saying that, as he'd warned earlier in the week, some of the city's coronavirus metrics "crossed our threshold for concern": daily emergency room visits, which have risen for eight straight days, and available hospital beds, which are dropping.
He said some coronavirus testing sites may be closed because of the storm, but that the city will be able to clear the snow, despite staffing and logistical challenges presented by the pandemic.
For the storm, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it will fully deploy its resources to clear the roads, including 3,800 pieces of snow-fighting equipment to be used on some 15,000 miles of roads.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency's emergency operations center has been activated and MBTA employees will be deployed overnight to clear roads and clear off platforms.
Baker added people who have scheduled coronavirus tests for Thursday should contact the test provider to confirm their appointment.
The state will provide additional information about potential temporary closures of customer-facing businesses due to the storm later Thursday, Baker said.
The snowstorm is expected to arrive in New England from southwest to northeast Wednesday evening, arriving to southwest Connecticut by 5 p.m., most of southern New England between 6 and 10 p.m. and southern New Hampshire by 11 p.m., expanding farther north overnight.
As wind increases, with gusts to 50 mph possible at the South Coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island overnight, blizzard conditions will be possible, with bursts of two to three inch per hour snowfall rates slowly shifting east, bringing whiteout and possible blizzard conditions to the eastern coast of New England and southeast Massachusetts north to York County, Maine, early Thursday morning.
The forecast remains rather consistent for a general foot or more of snow in much of southern New England, with amounts dropping to the north and also on Cape Cod, where a mix with and change to rain is anticipated Thursday morning after 2 inches on Nantucket and closer to 9 inches by the Canal. It’s the Canal into Plymouth and Bristol counties in Massachusetts where power outages are possible due to heavy, wet snow and wind gusts up to 45 mph.