A snowstorm that began as light, fluffy snowflakes has transformed Boston’s streets into a slickly coated winter wonderland, with heavier, wetter snow overnight expected to arrive overnight.
The storm eased into the city at around 1 p.m. Saturday, the beginning of a snowstorm expected to blanket the city with up to 8 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.
The city launched a number of measures in anticipation of the storm, and at a City Hall press conference, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced he and Boston’s various agencies were “ready for the storm” and its costs.
At the conference, Menino said he could not yet “place a price tag” on the storm’s costs to the city. “We don’t worry about the budget [for] the snow.”
City officials at the press conference also stressed that those attending seasonal celebrations be mindful dangerous conditions on the streets between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., when the storm is expected to be at its strongest.
The city is experiencing biting cold—with temperatures as low as 11 degrees Saturday morning—that kept the early snow light and dry. The brunt of the storm is expected to begin around 8 p.m., bringing heavier, wetter snow that will significantly reduce visibility until around 4 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation crews began pretreating roads statewide with salt Saturday morning and continued pretreating roads into the afternoon, spokeswoman Sara Lavoie said. State officials can call up to 4,000 plows and other pieces of equipment to clear the roads, and are expecting to need about 2,000 of them throughout the storm.
“A weekend storm is more manageable in terms of fewer vehicles on the highway,” Lavoie said. State Police officials said in a statement that they encourage people to drive only if necessary, or at least, drive slowly and plan for travel to take longer.
“The fact that it’s coming on a weekend and the worst of it is going to be overnight, that bodes well for travelers in the state and residents in the state, because we won’t have the work commuters or people trying to get to school [on the roads],” David Procopio, a State Police spokesman said. “So it should be gone and cleaned up by the time the work route starts.”
As of midafternoon Saturday, Procopio said, State Police officials had only seen a “few spin-outs on the road, but no serious crashes.”
Procopio said State Police officials had no plans to place additional troopers on the roads over the weekend. However, troopers will be on standby, and if necessary, some troopers will be asked to work past their shifts.
He added that in past storms, coastal flooding has been a large concern, prompting evacuation preparations, but that only minor coastal flooding has been predicted for this weekend.
“We haven’t seen anything yet, any flooding yet, we’ll be ready if it becomes anything,” he said.
Temperatures in Boston are forecast to warm up to the mid-30s by dawn Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. The warm airflows will cause the snow to become wetter, and at around 4 a.m., the snow is expected to change to rain when winds start increasing from the east, blowing higher gusts from the ocean at 15 to 25 miles per hour through the city. Areas north and west of the city will likely see the wintry mix play a greater role in their area.
Kelly Smith, a spokeswoman for the MBTA said the agency is proceeding with snow preparation plans without incident Saturday. The T issued a service alert for Sunday, announcing that shuttle buses will replace the Mattapan High-Speed Line from the start to end of service due to anticipated snow accumulation.
The communities of Medford, Somerville, and Braintree each declared a snow emergency Satuday.
In Medford, there is no parking on all posted emergency arteries within the city and violators will be subject to towing, according to a statement from Medford Police.
Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced a snow emergency that took effect at 2 p.m. Saturday, according to the city’s website. People have until 6 p.m. to park their vehicles on the odd-numbered sides of the street or face ticketing or towing.
Some residents and organizations also are postponing or canceling weekend plans. Centro Presente, a group that advocates for Latin American immigrants, is one such group, has postponed its annual celebration in Somerville because of the storm.
The storm is likely to dampen shopping in stores, which already faced a tough holiday season, having lost a weekend of sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to Jon Hurst, president of the Massachusetts Retailers Association. Continued...