Travelers in New England are bracing for a rough holiday weekend, with freezing rain and snow showers in store for most.
Light snow began falling in much of the region early Friday. Forecasters were expecting the precipitation to turn to sleet and freezing rain over interior sections, while coastal areas area likely to see mostly rain Friday night.
MassDOT briefly closed the I-495 southbound lanes Friday night, from exit 17 in Franklin to exit 14 in Plainville, in order to treat the icy conditions. The lanes were later reopened after crews finished sanding and salting the roadway.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for much of Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned that freezing rain that could last into Saturday is likely to create hazardous driving conditions for holiday travelers.
On the Mass. Pike speeds were reduced to 40 MPH in both directions from exit 11 in Millbury to New York.
Isolated power outages were also possible due to ice accumulating on tree limbs and utility lines.
The flakes started falling mid-afternoon in Worcester – but not really sticking on the roadways.
The weather's unpredictability has some people preparing for every type of precipitation.
"It all depends on whether it’s wet snow, dry snow, light snow," said Joe Forget, who’s salting and plowing.
"If it gets real cold though and starts raining with the snow then it really starts getting slippery and slidey out there and it becomes a nightmare trying to plow," He added.
At Grafton Square True Value Hardware, shoppers have been stocking up on ice melt all day.
"Supposed to get some freezing rain tonight, a little bit of snow, so I figured why not stock up," said Shawn Beando of Worcester.
"They’ve been hearing weather reports that there’s probably some ice or glaze today which can definitely be a problem with travel and it is a busy travel weekend so I think people are a little bit nervous about it," said Eric Spencer, manager of Grafton Square True Value Hardware.
Heavier snow was expected further north in New England, where some school districts have canceled school or will dismiss students early.
In Hooksett, New Hampshire, drivers were braving the elements up and down Interstate 93 as the snow piled up and the sun went down. Conditions deteriorated quickly.
"We saw one car flipped over," said Salisbury, Massachusetts, resident Rick Parthum.
"Very, very scary, you wish everyone would hold to the speed limit and not try to pass other people," said his wife, Donna.
At the Hooksett rest area, NBC Boston crews found lots of hearty New Englanders, thankful for Mother Nature’s early Christmas present.
"Get outside have fun go sledding make a snowman, I cherish those memories," said Halifax, Massachusetts, resident Danielle Fahey.
"It’s just par for the course, it’s winter in New England and you have to expect it to snow"” said Rhode Island resident Derek Michael.
The NH Department of Transportation says it was all hands on deck starting at 6:30 a.m Friday. More than 700 trucks will be out plowing and treating the roads through the storm and into Saturday.