Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has declared a snow emergency starting at 10 p.m. tonight, which means parking will be banned on all traffic arteries so plows can clear the streets during the season's first major snowstorm, which is expected to blanket the city with up to a foot of snow.
Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella urged travelers to check with their individual airlines to see if their flights have been affected by the storm that has slammed into the eastern seaboard. He said flights heading for other parts of the United States may not be affected by the storm.
As of 4:30 p.m., the National Weather Service said, light snow was falling in Danbury, Conn., and rain and snow were reported on Nantucket. Snow was expected to spread north during the next few hours, reaching the greater Boston area between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.The severest weather is expected in southeastern Massachusetts and southern Rhode Island, where forecasters are predicting blizzard conditions, with strong winds and up to 20 inches of snow. A blizzard is defined as sustained winds above 35 mph, and conditions so poor that visibility is reduced to less than a quarter-mile.
Weather service meteorologist Kim Buttrick said the area near the Cape Cod Canal could be the "bull's-eye" of the storm.
Forecasters said the worst of the snow and wind is expected between midnight and 8 a.m., when the flakes could fall up to two inches per hour. Restaurants and hotels have already received many cancellations in an anticipation of tonight's weather.
"If people don't need to travel tonight, it's best not to," said Buttrick, "especially after 8 tonight because it's going to get bad. It will get heavy at times, there will be bursts of snow, and reduced visibilities."
Temperatures are expected to drop to the low 20s tonight, according to the National Weather Service. Sunday temperatures will remain steady, with highs in the low 20s.
In preparation for the storm, Boston has over 600 pieces of snow removal equipment at the ready and nearly 25,000 tons of salt at depots across the city. Emergency homeless shelters will be open throughout the day and evening to make sure everyone has a place to stay, officials said this afternoon.
Click here for more information on the city's snow emergency planning.
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