Baker urges residents to stay off roads: ‘Travel nearly impossible’





Local

“Everyone should stay off the road tomorrow unless it’s an emergency or you have some very essential and absolute reason for being out,” said Baker.

Gov. Charlie Baker emphasized that everyone should stay off the roads Saturday as a possibly record-setting blizzard is due to hammer the state with whiteout conditions, high winds, and power outages.

“This is going to be a very big storm. Probably one of the biggest we’ve experienced in the last few years,” Baker said at a press conference Friday evening. 

The winter storm will start late Friday and continue through Saturday and into Saturday night.

Forecasters expect the storm to drop between 12 and 24 inches in parts of the state, with some areas getting as much as 3-feet of snow.

The storm will hit eastern Massachusetts the hardest, with whiteout conditions impacting the South Shore and coastline, down to the Cape and the Islands. 

Winds will hit 40 to 50 mph across eastern Massachusetts with gusts up to 70 mph on the Cape and in other pockets. Emergency officials warned of looming power outages. 

“This kind of storm is nothing new for Massachusetts, but we have not had one like this for quite a while, and everyone needs to take it very seriously,” Baker said.

The snowfall rate will pick up significantly between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday morning, Baker said. The National Weather Service expects snowfall between 2-to-4-inches between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

But the biggest takeaway from Baker’s remarks — stay home. 

“Conditions on those roads will be very hazardous, so people really ought to plan to stay off the roads tomorrow,” said Baker. “Have I made myself clear on staying off the roads tomorrow?… We really don’t want people to be on those roads during that period for a number of reasons.”

The governor called it “an enormously challenging task” for crews to clear the roads and interstates during severe snow. He warned of unpredictable driving conditions due to the whiteout conditions and continuous plowing. 

“We don’t want people to get hurt or stuck,” said Baker, adding that temperatures will get to well below zero in many eastern parts of the state.

A tractor-trailer travel ban goes into effect at 6 a.m. Saturday and will continue all day. 

“We can’t have trucks jackknifing and shutting down roads in conditions like this,” said Baker.

Rescue and emergency crews are ready

About 40 members of the National Guard are standing by to help with rescue efforts for people who get stranded, Baker said. They’re positioned in eastern Massachusetts to help with high water rescues and stranded drivers. They’ll work along with state and local police.

“This should hopefully not be necessary because everyone will be staying off the roads, but if we do have stranded drivers the Guard has high-profile vehicles that are better equipped to get through the drifts to reach people,” Baker said.

MassDOT has about 3,900 pieces of equipment ready to go, including over 1,400 plow and spreader combos, 2,100 plows, and 460 front-end loaders. Massport said most airlines had postponed flights scheduled for Saturday.

Brace for power outages

The storm’s high winds will likely knock out power, especially along the coast. 

The state is working closely with utility companies, which are staging workers in a variety of areas that they consider to be strategic and soft spots so that they will be able to move once winds die down and snow stops

“The most important thing I can say there is they will need the wind to die down, the snow to stop, and obviously some of the work that we’re going to be doing to clear the roads to make it possible to get to where they need to get to do the work that they’re going to do.”

Baker said that the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is reaching out to communities in southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape to coordinate regional warming centers for those who lose power.  

MBTA reduced storm schedule 

The MBTA will run reduced storm schedules Saturday for those who need to make essential trips; many buses will run on snow routes.

The T is suspending service on the Green Line’s D Branch and the Mattapan Line Saturday, with shuttle buses replacing trolleys. The T will also suspend ferry service between Charlestown and Long Wharf, as weather conditions worsen. 

Crews will try to clear snow and ice and respond to downed trees through the system.  

Anyone who has to travel on the T should visit mbta.com/winter-weather to look for specific service alerts and schedules. T officials will also post updates on Twitter at @MBTA and @MBTA_CR. 





Source link