Thursday, 10:24 AM
Heavy snow grinds traffic to a standstill
(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
Traffic stood still this afternoon on Storrow Drive.
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Stay where you are.
A blinding storm has paralyzed streets, highways, and interstates with snow falling at a rate of 1 1/2 inches an hour as Boston gets slammed with its first blast of winter.
"There is no place to drive," said Jeff Larson, general manager of the Smart Route Systems, which monitors local traffic. "Every road is basically jammed. I don't know what else to say. It's terrible out there."
There is more bad news.
"Itís probably going to get worse before it gets better," said Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton. "And it's about as bad as it gets right now."
No major accidents have been reported, but dozens of spinouts have helped bring traffic to a halt.
"Six miles an hour is what I heard on Interstate 93 north of the city," said Sergeant Michael Rafferty of the State Police. "It is particularly nasty north of the city. As is Route 128 in Waltham."
Governor Deval Patrick sent all nonemergency state employees home early and encouraged private employers to do the same, according to Peter Judge, a spokesman for the state Emergency Management Agency.
When the fast-moving storm sloshes out to sea at 10 p.m., Boston may be under 6 to 10 inches of snow. Five to 6 inches have already fallen in northern Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service.
State Police are urging motorists to heed the weather forecast, prepare their vehicles for the winter, drive slowly, and leave extra space between cars.
State highway officials have 3,962 plows and salt spreaders trying to clear the snow. Crews have been treating roads with salt and sand. "We are encouraging folks to stay off the roads and take public transportation home -- even if they have driven their car in to work," said Mac Daniel, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
Temperatures are expected to hover in the 20s through the night.
On Friday sunny skies are expected to push temperatures into the 40s, melting much of the snow. On Saturday night, another storm may hit Boston with 20- to 30-mile-per-hour winds and the potential for 6 inches of snow, sleet, or freezing rain.
"While today's storm will be the first significant snowfall of the season, it will be compact and fast moving," said Charlie Foley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "Saturday night into Sunday will be more sprawling, much more like the classic northeaster."
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