State agencies around Massachusetts are preparing for a nor'easter that's expected to wallop many parts of southern New England with more than a foot of snow on Thursday.
Governor Charlie Baker announced Wednesday night that state offices would be closed Thursday for non-emergency, executive branch state employees due to the storm. Residents were being urged to stay off roadways if possible to allow road crews to clear snow.
“Tomorrow’s forecast is expected to create hazardous driving conditions across many parts of the Commonwealth. To prioritize public safety, we are asking everyone to stay off the roads to allow crews to safely clear snow or use public transportation,” said Baker. “Please assist us by shoveling driveways and sidewalks in your communities, and be sure to lend a hand to neighbors in need.”
MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said snow-fighting equipment and dozens of spare traction motors have helped the transit system prepare for the winter blast.
MassDOT officials are advising drivers to stay off the roads if at all possible, and those who have to drive are asked "to make informed and safe decisions" before hitting the road.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared a snow emergency beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday. He said residents can park in designated discounted garages two hours before the snow emergency takes effect. A full list of those garages is available at boston.gov.
Walsh spoke on the storm Wednesday afternoon and said Boston is prepared with 600 pieces of equipment doing pre-treatment and plowing.
He said that residents should not shovel or plow into the streets. There are increased fines for doing so. Residents should also shovel out fire hydrants.
Walsh added that residents who live in front of a handicap spot should shovel it out to help emergency responders.
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“We are encouraging residents to use caution when traveling, assist the elderly and disabled, and keep up with the shoveling of their property throughout the storm tomorrow," said Walsh. "The City offers a number of resources geared towards keeping residents safe and aware of current conditions. I encourage everyone to sign up for emergency notifications through AlertBoston and utilize our 311 call center for non-emergency related issues.”
Residents are also being reminded that space savers for parking will not be allowed in Boston until after the storm. City trash crews will throw them out if they see them.
All city shelters will be open 24/7 beginning tonight into tomorrow.
With blizzard, winter storm warnings and watches already in effect for much of New England, Thursday's storm - which is forecasted to bring heavy snow and high winds - is expected to start between 5 and 8 a.m. from west to east, and will continue through the evening before ending at night.
In Boston on Wednesday night, residents were gearing up for the storm.
“Well to be honest I’m kind of looking forward to it,” said college student Servane Fournier. “Because I really want a snow day!”
Meanwhile, families in Somerville are gearing up for whatever the storm brings.
“We make sure we go to the grocery store. We make sure we have our snow gear out,” Sarah McWhorter said.
Thursday's forecast doesn't look great, but some parents say Wednesday morning's icy commute was so bad, they're looking forward to a possible snow day.
“We are prepared, at least we have some idea it's going to happen,” parent Rhoda Donn said.
In Framingham, it will be an all-hands-on-deck situation for highway employees and contractors.
“We have our equipment that's going into maintenance that needs to be repaired or brought up to compliance with some of the computerized equipment, we're reloading our salt shed, we're having that delivered,” Framingham Highway Director Danial Nau said.
Nau added that drivers are also getting some much needed rest ahead of the storm.