With the city of Boston expected to get at least a foot of snow in Thursday's big snowstorm, residents across eastern Massachusetts are being urged to stay home amid heavy winds and icy road conditions.
In Boston, schools are closed Thursday and Friday, and a parking ban took effect at 7 a.m. Seven hundred pieces of snow-clearing equipment will be on the roads to keep the streets clear in the city, and more than 1,200 pieces of equipment are operating on other roads around Massachusetts to keep them clear.
"Safety is our big priority here," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. "We're encouraging residents to stay off the roads. Be careful if you go out. Plows will not be able to see you. We're expecting whiteout conditions."
Walsh said later Thursday that too many people were getting stuck on the streets and urged people to stay home if possible.
State police have reduced the speed limit to 40 mph on the Massachusetts Turnpike from the New York border to Boston.
Interstate 93 northbound was temporarily shut down going out of the O'Neill Tunnel out to the Zakim Bridge due to snowy conditions. Crews have since treated the area and the route has reopened.
Many flights out of Logan Airport have been canceled due to the weather.
Residents in Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire are also being encouraged to stay off the roads as plows do their work.
"MassDOT highway crews and contractors are already out in full force treating roads and beginning to plow," said Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker.
State and local officials urged residents to prepare for possible power losses and stay home so crews can clear streets and roads of what could be as much as a foot or more of snow in some places. There are concerns in Boston and elsewhere that if roads aren't properly cleared, they could freeze into cement-like icy messes by Friday, given the expected low temperatures. In other areas, plummeting temperatures already have caused water mains to burst.
"This snow will be on the ground for a long time," Walsh said. "If we don't get it off the ground today, it will be very difficult."
The mayor urged residents to be patient as crews work to treat roads and plow streets.
The MBTA is hoping to keep buses and subways running on a regular schedule, but the commuter rail is operating on a reduced schedule Thursday and the MBTA ferry will not operate.
Worcester officials announced that the city's public transit service will be suspended at noon, with no fixed route or van service running, due to weather conditions.
Schools in Worcester will also be closed Friday.
Thursday's storm also delivered damaging winds and moderate to major coastal flooding during the early afternoon high tides.