Mass. gearing up for season’s first major snowstorm

Crews were planning to work through the night on Wednesday to make state highways passable for what was expected to be a messy morning commute, after a night of heavy snow and freezing rain forecast for much of the state.

“This is the first major snowstorm event for this season,” said state Highway Administrator Frank DePaola. “So we’re calling in our [state transportation department] employees, and we’ll also be calling in contract equipment to support us.”

Between 10 and 12 inches could hit parts of central and western Massachusetts on Wednesday night, as well as in northern Middlesex County, the National Weather Service said.

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The eastern part of the state could see up to an inch of snow in some areas, with up to 3 inches forecast for parts of Essex County, according to the weather service. There will be little to no snow accumulation in the Boston area, where a coastal flood advisory will be in effect from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, the weather service said.

DePaola said crews planned to begin salting state highways on Wednesday evening and work through the night to prevent icing conditions. They will also plow the roads as needed.

“We’ll eventually do all state highways, except for maybe Cape Cod,” DePaola said.

DePaola said about 4,000 trucks outfitted with plows and sanding equipment, which are operated by private contractors, will be on standby.

“We fully expect that we’ll be calling in contract personnel tonight,” he said.

DePaola said the total cost of the storm response will probably eclipse the $3 million mark. He said crews have benefitted from the extra time this year to prepare for a major storm, as opposed to last year, when an October nor’easter dumped more than two feet of snow on parts of the state.

“All the trucks have been inspected, all the plows have been mounted,” DePaola said. “The salt stores are full. Last year in October, that one caught us a little bit early, and we were able to handle it.”

Separately, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said the storm was not expected to affect service on the bus and subway system.

Richard Walsh, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport, said in an email that the airport was “not expecting many impacts” from the storm.

“With that said, travelers should still check with their airline before leaving for the airport,” Walsh said. “It is New England, after all.”

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